2020 Symposium on Substance Use Research

November 12 2020

The mainstay RI team presents at the 2020 Symposium on Substance Use Research cohosted by:

The Symposium will leverage research, knowledge, and insight on substance use from across the country. 


About the Presentation

mainstay RI is a collaboration between designers, health care professionals, and non-profit workers who envision a Rhode Island where people who use drugs are supported in their path to improved health and safety. Begun as a hackathon proposal, the core idea of Mainstay was a “soft and slow” place for people who’d recently woken up from an overdose. It takes the agency of people who use drugs as its first priority and attempts to create an environment where care workers and peers can enable people to define and follow their own path to better outcomes.

The objective of this research is to better understand what kinds of care environments (formal and informal) currently exist that may require improvement or new designs. There is limited documentation of how people who provide or receive care for opioid use perceive elements of that care – team composition, services, and spaces – especially where care for opioid use is provided. This preliminary work is necessary as we move towards a more complete proposal for the design of future care spaces, services & their delivery, and care teams. 

Taking a broad view of user-centered design, our research engages critically with those in the challenge space through qualitative interviews and discussions. This includes people with lived opioid use experience, physicians, clinicians and nurses, recovery specialists, community leaders, first responders and public health personnel.

As we move the project from a promising concept towards realized ideas, the team has confronted differences in the way that varied disciplines understand basic concepts like “environment” and “research”. We’ve needed to develop new shared vocabularies to connect the best practices of the medical field with the best practices of design. In this talk, the team will present our early exploratory research and some lessons learned along the way.