Odyssey House supports harm reduction in conjunction with treatment and recovery.
As part of a comprehensive approach to addressing substance use disorders through prevention and treatment, harm reduction helps save lives by being available and accessible in a manner that emphasizes the need for humility and compassion toward people who use drugs.
Harm reduction is an approach that emphasizes engaging directly with people who use drugs to prevent overdose and infectious disease transmission and improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of those served. It offers low-threshold options for accessing substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and other healthcare services.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), harm reduction significantly prevents drug-related deaths and offers access to healthcare, social services, and treatment. These services decrease overdose fatalities, acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection, and chronic diseases such as HIV/HCV (SAMHSA, 2022).
At Odyssey House, we offer a range of interventions underpinned by these guiding principles to individuals, families, communities, and institutions through a broad array of recovery support services and residential and outpatient SUD treatment programs. Our residential and outpatient treatment services integrate harm reduction interventions throughout each level of care.
Approximately 20 percent of admitted patients receive an addiction medication such as buprenorphine, methadone, or Vivitrol as a treatment for opioid use disorder and to protect against accidental overdose for those who may return to active drug use.
Naloxone Opioid Overdose Rescue
Every patient seeking or admitted to care and all staff members are trained to administer opioid overdose rescue kits (naloxone) and receive a supply of this medication. Naloxone kits are placed throughout each treatment facility in multiple locations, clearly marked and accessible to all. Each discharged patient is offered a naloxone kit.
Fentanyl Testing Strips
In residential services, individuals who are not admitted to treatment because they require an alternative level of care and clients who leave care against clinical advice are offered fentanyl supply tests.
In outpatient care, fentanyl supply tests are available to clients during care and discharge.
Health Risk Assessment
All admitted patients receive infectious disease risk assessments and a comprehensive physical exam with a licensed healthcare professional. Exams include a detailed medical history and access to prophylaxis (e.g., condoms, dental dams) and treatment for infectious diseases.
In-Community Harm Reduction Services
The Davidson Recovery Center, a community-based drop-in center in the South Bronx, offers on-site and community activities that engage the general public, individuals, and family members of people who use drugs.
The Davidson Recovery Center staff, Peer Engagement Specialist, and Family Support Navigator all offer on-demand training and distribute life-saving naloxone, fentanyl drug supply tests, and safer sex supplies such as condoms and dental dams. The center provides readily accessible, low-demand services, regardless of an individual’s status relative to current drug use or self-identified as in recovery from addiction.
The Davidson Recovery Center staff and trained volunteers help community members access support services such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, home health care, Home Energy Assistance Program, home-delivered meals, and primary, specialty, and behavioral healthcare.
Peer Engagement Specialists and the Family Support Navigator provide low-threshold, in-community services to individuals and families regardless of status relative to current or past drug use. These staff members offer their own lived experience as they provide guidance and access to instrumental support through street outreach and engagement with collateral service providers, where they are likely to encounter people who use drugs and their families.