Why online and mail-based harm reduction?
● Access to resources is impacted by where people live: rural and suburban people who use drugs do not have access to Syringe Exchange Programs that are often clustered in urban centers. Shifting harm reduction education and supply distribution to an online and mail-based model enables people who use drugs to access resources regardless of their location.
● Access to resources is tied to economics: rural and suburban people who use drugs are limited by how far they can travel to secure harm reduction supplies, as they often live hours away from the nearest syringe exchange program. NEXT delivers supplies to their door.
● Poor technological literacy is a barrier to accessing internet-based resources: to navigate the current scattered landscape of online-based harm reduction health resources, individuals are required to have a high-level of technological literacy. NEXT tools are consolidated into one platform that showcases both text and video-based education.
● To develop and provide culturally competent public health solutions, we need better connections to people who use drugs: NEXT provides opportunities for unprecedented drug user organizing and outreach.
How NEXT Works
- NEXT targets geographically isolated people who use drugs with risk reduction education, overdose prevention resources, and harm reduction supplies through an online-based strategy. NEXT will use narrative, video, and forum functions to promote healthy behaviors among system users.
- NEXT utilizes an encrypted online ordering system and postal delivery to distribute harm reduction materials to people who use drugs that are unable or unwilling to access harm reduction supplies in their own communities.
- NEXT creates a hub of user-friendly, peer-to-peer, web-based resources that focus on self-empowerment, wellness, and improving health outcomes.
- NEXT provides direct support through chat and video chat functions.
- NEXT promotes low-threshold, high-performance web-based interventions that take into account the needs of individuals with varying drug using experience, health literacy, and actual literacy.
Advantages to an online and mail-based platform
- Ability to connect, engage, and provide resources to people who use drugs regardless of their location or proximity to a syringe exchange program.
- Educational resources, tutorials, and support opportunities are compiled in one place, for system users to access in the comfort of their own home.
- Using a chat feature, users can ask questions in real-time or request more in-depth telephone support.
- Data, periodic questionnaires, and intake updates will enable evaluation activities and provide information about how the site could expand and improve.
- Connect users to local and national drug user health resources that they may not be aware of.
- Ability to provide information blasts regarding valuable health information (i.e., HCV outbreak in nearby zip codes).
- High utilization of the system could identify zip codes where more brick and mortar services are necessary.