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On August 31, 2021, SWAN participated in the International Overdose Awareness Day event on the New Haven Green. Our outreach team was there with our van to distribute free naloxone and talk to folks about how everyone can be a part of preventing overdose deaths. SWAN’s great partner, street medic Phil Costello from Cornell-Scott Hill Health Center, spoke about steps we need to take to end overdose deaths for good.

  • Have naloxone (Narcan) on hand to reverse an overdose. Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. It is easy to administer and can be given to anyone who is showing signs of an opioid overdose. It is not addictive and there is no negative effect on the person receiving the treatment, even if it turns out the person is not experiencing an overdose. Get in touch with our team to get your own naloxone kit and learn how to use it.
  • Never ever use alone. Naloxone can’t save you if there’s no one there to administer it. If you must use alone, we recommend the Never Use Alone hotline. Call 800-484-3731. They stay on with you while you use, and send help if you stop responding. No judgment, no shame, no preaching.
  • Open supervised injection sites. Safe injection sites reduce the harm and risk of IV drug use by providing a safe and clean space for people to inject. These are shown to dramatically reduce overdose rates.
  • Offer a safe supply. An increasing number of overdose deaths are caused by fentanyl and synthetic drugs. A a legal and regulated supply of drugs has the potential to support people who use drugs to stay alive and to live safe and healthy lives.
  • Test drugs for fentanyl. Drugs laced with fentanyl are driving the current dramatic increase in overdose deaths. SWAN offers easy to use fentanyl test strips available any time on our outreach van.
  • End the stigma. Stigma is a barrier to treatment and a barrier to accessing harm reduction supplies like naloxone and clean needles. We must be able to meet people where they are and provide love and support without judgment of their life choices.

Interested in learning more about SWAN’s work or obtaining harm reduction supplies? Contact our SWAN Care Coordinator, Brandy, at