testRI is a two-year study to learn more about the local drug supply in Rhode Island and how changes to the supply impact overdose risk. This project integrates ethnographic and toxicologic methods to understand how people’s drug use is changing, how these changes are linked to the local drug supply, and best practices for data dissemination in near-real-time while centering the experiences of people who use drugs.

How are we doing this?

Listening to how people are using drugs.

We are conducting fieldwork at overdose hotspots in the community and interviewing people who use drugs to understand how people are using drugs and how their practices have changed with the supply.

Testing to learn what is in the local drug supply.

We are testing used supplies collected from overdose hotspots and donated samples from individuals or community organizations to better understand what is in the local drug supply (e.g., fentalogs, methamphetamines). We will share this information with people in the community to help folks know what they may be buying and how to use in a way that reduces risk. 

Patterns of use matter.

By asking questions to understand how and why people use drugs in a certain way with the knowledge of what is in the supply we can work with community partners and collaborators to better understand and reduce risk.


Why are we doing this?

The drug supply is rapidly changing which is leading to increased fatal overdose risk. 

Our understanding of how drug supply changes impact people who use drugs in real-time is inadequate. And drug surveillance findings rarely get shared with people who use drugs. 

Research indicates that people who use drugs want to know what is in the local supply and what they may be using to help them make decisions about their drug use practices and overdose risk reduction practices.

This two-year project will be one of the first to integrate ethnography and toxicology to understand how people’s drug use is changing based on the supply while centering on the experiences of people who use drugs.

What are we finding?

Local drug supply data will be posted on Rhode Island’s web-based overdose surveillance platform (PreventOverdoseRI.org) and distributed as alerts via email through the Rhode Island Department of Health listserv.

We will also distribute results to harm reduction organizations and community partners in Rhode Island (including Project Weber/RENEW, RICARES, AIDS Care Ocean State, Parent Support Network, VICTA). Members of the study’s Community Advisory Board will also share results with their networks for transparency of this work

Also make sure to check out our Twitter and Instagram pages where we will also share what we found and additional info about specific substances in the supply. 

You can also subscribe to get alerts right to your inbox.

Who is funding this work?

This project received funding from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE). Visit their website to learn more about the work they support.

For more information about this study, please contact:

Alexandra Collins, PhD (alexandra_collins1@brown.edu) or Rachel Wightman, MD (rachel_wightman@brown.edu)