Punch a code into the safer drug-use vending machine, and get free Narcan. Or get safer smoking products, fentanyl test strips, or other items that help keep you out of harm’s way. Nearly 600 overdoses have been turned around with naloxone products from this machine. Nearly 13,000 safer drug use and healthcare items, from safer-smoking pipes to personal protective equipment, have been dispensed from the vending machine outside Caracole since it opened in 2021, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Caracole, the Cincinnati region’s nonprofit devoted to fight against HIV and AIDS, operates the harm reduction vending machine. It tracks the machine's customer base and product dispensing. A report from March 1, 2021, to Sept. 30 this year shows an "overwhelming" response to the strategy, said Caracole CEO Linda Seiter.
"We have provided life-saving supplies for persons who use drugs 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Seiter said. The safer-use machine was only the second of its kind in the U.S. when it became available to people who use drugs, with the first harm-reduction vending program in Las Vegas. Since then, the Cincinnati-based machine has reached more than 800 individuals, and it has become an avenue for harm reduction help for a client base that isn’t always reached by such efforts: people who smoke, rather than inject, drugs. That can include recreational drug users. Harm reduction is the effort to give people who use drugs practical ways to minimize their health risks in a nonjudgmental manner. Syringe exchanges, which provide sterile needles to drug users to reduce the chances of getting HIV or hepatitis C and containers for used syringes for safe disposal, are among those strategies.