The latest weapon in the field of harm reduction: a new vending machine unveiled outside the Kenmore Volunteer Fire Department, the first in Western New York and one of about a dozen across New York designed for those battling addiction.

What You Need To Know

  • Drug addiction continues to plague New York state
  • Vending machines are now being made available complete with treatment and testing options
  • Funding is part of the opioid settlement funding throughout the state

"People who are addicted to substances are not morally failing. They have a disease,” said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “And we can only help them if they are alive.”

University at Buffalo medical leaders and others launched the no-stigma machines on Monday as part of UB's “Medication for Addiction Treatment and Electronic Referrals,” or MATTERS program, that also partners with several organizations across the state and offers several treatment options and services.

"We owe it to the community to assess the efficacy of vending machines located in different geographical areas but different sites themselves," said Dr. Josh Lynch, founder of MATTERS, UB clinical associate professor, emergency medicine. 

Machines include overdose antidote naloxone and free test strips for fentanyl and xylazine.

"These machines symbolize a vital step towards increasing access to life-saving medication and beginning to chip away at the stigma that comes with substance use disorder," said Dr. Allison Brashear, dean, UB Jacobs School of Medicine.

Funding came from an $8 million grant, part of the opioid settlement funds distributed throughout the state last year.

"The MATTERS program will continue to be a key partner for the department in expanding equitable access for people with opioid use disorder, especially in areas of the state with few resources," said Liz Whipple, New York State Department of Health. 

The MATTERS program is also expanding to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Vending machines are currently stationed in Kenmore, Buffalo, Jamestown, Dunkirk, Geneva, Elmira, Utica, Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Kingston, Hudson and Poughkeepsie.