Narcan, naloxone boxes being installed at highway rest stops

Naloxone kits known as NaloxBoxes will be installed at highway rest stops in order to expand access to medication that can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced a partnership with RecoveryOhio initiative, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the Ohio Department of Health’s Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) to install these naloxone kits at rest areas across Ohio. The kits contain naloxone, and they are similar to a mounted Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

“Increasing access to naloxone is critical to combatting the opioid crisis and decreasing the number of overdose deaths in Ohio,” DeWine said. “By placing Naloxboxes in rest areas across the state we are providing more opportunities to reverse the deadly effects of illicit opioids and providing opportunities for Ohioans to choose recovery.”

Naloxone, with one of the name brands being known as Narcan, is medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is the standard treatment for opioid overdose, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved Narcan and another naloxone product, RiVive, for over-the-counter use.

Naloxone can restore consciousness and breathing to someone experiencing an overdose, but it is harmless if it is given to a person not experiencing an opioid overdose, the governor’s office said on Thursday. More than 130 boxes with naloxone are being installed at 65 rest areas across the state.

Last year, unintentional drug overdoses in Ohio resulted in 4,915 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health. That is nearly four times greater than the 1,275 fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes over the same period, the state said.

In Montgomery County, there were 316 accidental overdose deaths in 2022, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. Preliminary figures show 196 accidental overdose deaths in 2023 so far. These figures are both below the high that the county experienced in 2017, which was 566 accidental overdose deaths.

In 2014, Project DAWN distributed 2,894 naloxone kits statewide, which resulted in 190 known overdose reversals. In 2022, the number of kits distributed increased to 205,584 and the known overdose reversals to 18,244, according to the governor’s office.

The common signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include unresponsiveness, slow or no breathing, blue lips or fingernails, choking or coughing, cold or clammy skin, small pupils, and dizziness or disorientation.

Local businesses and churches can consider getting their own NaloxBox, making this medication accessible to anyone in the event of an opioid drug overdose. The box is free and provided by Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County or Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services.

To obtain Narcan or a NaloxBox, contact Dawn Schwartz, Community Overdose Action Team project manager, at Public Health at (937) 225-6026.

About the Author