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Image by Jair Lázaro



The overdose epidemic is one of the nation’s most acute health crises. From 1999 to 2019, over 630,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US, and 2.5 million Americans meet the criteria for opioid use disorder (OUD). OUD is treatable, and fatal overdose can be prevented. Harm Reduction Services in Mobile Outreach Units play a crucial role in linkage to care. People who use drugs (PWUD) are a vulnerable group and they have reduced access to health care due to multiple barriers.

Even in areas where people are within a short distance of high-quality healthcare and addiction services, people still miss opportunities for treatment and overdose rates remain persistently high. In partnership with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Strategies to Overcome Obstacles and Avoid Recidivism (SOOAR), has developed an innovative mobile health program concept called Boots On The Ground (BOTG) harm reduction program, the first program in Wayne County, outside the City of Detroit, which aims to expand access to addiction services through mobile health. This mobile harm reduction program will provide low-threshold, low barrier harm reduction services aimed at increasing access to addiction services for people at highest risk of near-term death. Guided by precise, data-driven hot spotting, BOTG will deploy a mobile unit and a team of harm reduction outreach workers to areas with high rates of opioid use and overdose to engage individuals, provide harm reduction services, and link those with OUD to long-term, comprehensive community-based care, if they choose. By mobilizing critical addiction services, harm reduction teams can bring care directly to high-risk individuals who are currently disengaged from care due to multiple barriers and stigma. Our goal is to expand on-demand access to patient centered, compassionate care for a particularly vulnerable population. The partnership between clinical and harm reduction providers can establish coordinated and complementary services and enhance people’s access to comprehensive care. The Harm Reduction Coalition defines harm reduction as “a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.” Harm reduction is also “a movement for social justice built on a belief in and respect for the rights of people who use drugs.”  The adoption of harm reduction principles in healthcare settings can enhance clinical care by strengthening the provider-patient relationship and empowering patients to feel validated. SOOAR is prepared to be a part of this continuum of care. We are soliciting donation to purchase and retrofit and small RV to be used for Mobile Units services.

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