The United States is in the midst of an overdose crisis that’s been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased toxicity of the drug supply, largely a result of adulterants like fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In 2021, the number of deaths in New York State alone surged to more than 5,800 individuals – an average of nearly 16 people every day.
Scaling up harm reduction interventions has helped avert thousands of overdose-related deaths, but the persistent predominance of fentanyl continues to fuel mortality. To complement existing interventions, colleagues in Canada and elsewhere around the globe have pointed to providing “safer supply,” or an alternative to the unregulated, toxic drug supply as a potential solution to prevent overdose-related deaths and address the needs of people for whom current treatment models do not work or are not a good fit. Although not intended as a standalone treatment for substance use disorder, this novel approach is showing promise in addressing the growing morbidity and mortality surrounding the current drug supply.
This episode will introduce safer supply as a harm reduction approach to support and engage people who use drugs.
Disclaimer: Safer supply is not legal or authorized in the United States under current FDA and DEA regulations. Related Content:
Haines M, O'Byrne P. Safer opioid supply: qualitative program evaluation. Harm Reduct J. 2023 Apr 20;20(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s12954-023-00776-z. PMID: 37081500; PMCID: PMC10117245
Tyndall M. A safer drug supply: a pragmatic and ethical response to the overdose crisis. CMAJ. 2020 Aug 24;192(34):E986–7. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.201618. PMCID: PMC7840515
McNeil R, Fleming T, Mayer S, Barker A, Mansoor M, Betsos A, Austin T, Parusel S, Ivsins A, & Boyd J. Implementation of safe supply alternatives during intersecting COVID-19 and overdose health emergencies in British Columbia, Canada 2021. Am J Public Health. 2022;112(S151_S158). doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2021.306692