Ryan Koch

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In 2022, over 100,000 people in the US died of drug overdose, with the majority of these deaths occurring without a bystander present. People who use drugs alone are at high risk for fatal overdoses. Sensors designed to alert responders to a potential overdose detect the reduction of micro-movements (e.g., respiratory distress) in single-occupancy bathrooms. Naloxone and harm reduction practices are commonsense implementations to reduce overdose deaths in our community.  Since January 2023, we conducted 70 structured surveys to organizations in overdose hotspots across eight townships in Rhode Island. Sites surveyed were categorized into food service, gas/service stations, housing facilities, medical facilities, and retail establishments. Survey questions assessed overdose detection technologies feasibility, and acceptability, and perceived effectiveness of responding to overdoses as well as harm reduction practices and naloxone. Only 38.5% reported having naloxone present on site, of which 66.6% was inaccessible to non-staff members (e.g., patients, patrons). 50% of respondents indicated having no staff members trained in naloxone administration with 21.4% and 21.4% reporting some or all of their staff were trained, respectively. 67.6% reported having no standardized procedures in place to respond to an overdose on site outside of naloxone. 74.3% indicated being comfortable with installing the sensors, with 68.6% of respondents agreed that sensors could be effective at preventing overdose death at their site. The implementation of harm reduction practices in our community can be greatly beneficial in reducing fatalities and damage from overdose. Facilitating naloxone training and distribution, and overdose response at our university can also be incredibly impactful in helping raise awareness for this issue, regardless of substance use relevance. Further support is needed to fund and facilitate installing them in public locations where public drug use may go unnoticed.

Faculty Mentor

Evan Smarinsky, Ph.D., LMHC

Academic Discipline

College of Arts & Sciences



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