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Harm reduction vending machine opens in rural Oklahoma

GRAND Mental Health Operational Director Tiffany Brock holds a pregnancy test from her organization's new harm reduction vending machine on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at the GRAND Recovery Center in Jay.
Max Bryan
/
OPMX
GRAND Mental Health Operational Director Tiffany Brock holds a pregnancy test from her organization's new harm reduction vending machine on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at the GRAND Recovery Center in Jay.

Rural northeast Oklahoma is trying a new way to prevent overdoses and sexually transmitted infections.

Delaware County’s GRAND Mental Health clinic has a new vending machine on its porch with Narcan, HIV tests, pregnancy tests, wound care kits and blood alcohol tests.

GRAND worked with Delaware County Community Partnership, an opioid response program, and Integris Hospital to place the machine, according to a news release.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates Oklahoma had more than 1,000 drug overdose deaths and more than 20,000 sexually transmitted infections in 2022, the latest year with such data.

According to Johns Hopkins University, harm reduction vending machines have been effectively used to reduce syringe sharing among drug users. Early evidence suggests using the machines to dispense naloxone (the generic term for Narcan) lowers local overdose deaths.

But some people in the area were concerned about drug addicts moving into the Jay area because of the machine.

“I don’t think people understand that addiction affects more people than you may realize, including people with everyday, typical jobs that you would never expect that addiction has touched their lives,” said Brandy Myers, a GRAND behavioral health coach.

At a luncheon Thursday celebrating the launch of the vending machine, GRAND Regional Officer Kasandra Turbett said it's meant to be one effort around a social push for destigmatizing mental illness and addiction awareness.

“The individuals in our community who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse, those individuals matter,” said Turbett.


This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS in Tulsa.
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