A naloxone kit distributed by Project DAWN includes a nasal spray device with two doses of 2 mg each of the overdose-reversing drug. FILE

County to offer overdose reversal drug to businesses for public use

After a decade that saw more than 2,600 people die of overdose deaths in Montgomery County, businesses will soon be able to request a free opioid rescue kit that contains the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

Much like an automated defibrillator, a NaloxBox can be placed within easy reach in workspaces and public spaces to help prevent more deaths, according to public health and safety officials who announced the initiative Thursday.

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“These boxes will save people’s lives in our community,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck.

Streck said his office used dispatch data, coroner’s reports and citizen calls to determine where overdoses are likely to occur.

“It didn’t take much to figure out that businesses were highly affected with this problem,” he said. “Opioid addiction is such a strong addiction, the individuals would stop at the first location they could find to use the substance they had just purchased. Obviously, most of the time that ended up being a gas station, grocery store, convenience store, places like that.”

Overdose deaths — though down from historic high numbers — continued to claim hundreds of lives in the Miami Valley during 2019, including 290 people in Montgomery County, according to preliminary county data. From 2010 through last year, 2,662 died of drug overdoses. More than 20% of the total occurred in 2017.

The transparent NaloxBox cabinet improves the odds of bystander rescuers to reverse an overdose, said Jodi Long, associate director of Montgomery County’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) board.

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“Having naloxone readily available to anyone, including first responders has been a key strategy in our county to combat the opioid epidemic. Expanding to businesses is our county’s next great step to ensure naloxone is available to our community when needed,” she said. “An opioid overdose emergency can happen to anyone of us at any time, whether in our businesses, our families or our places of worship.”

Spearheaded by the county’s Community Overdose Action Team, the first 30 boxes have been purchased at a cost of about $240 per box, said Barbara Marsh, the county’s assistant health commissioner.

Each opioid rescue kit ships with a bilingual overdose recognition and response instruction booklet on how to administer a dose of intranasal naloxone and use the included CPR rescue breathing device. The overdose reversal drug, however, is not included in the box.

The county will keep each box stocked with four doses of naloxone. A two-dose box of naloxone costs between $60 and $75, but a $2 million federal grant to ADAMHS is covering the cost of the medication for law enforcement and first responders in Darke, Preble and Montgomery counties as well as for the new NaloxBoxes now available for Montgomery County businesses, Long said.

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“Literally anybody who wants to carry Narcan in the community can do it at no cost to themselves due to the funding we’ve been able to secure and the generous support of levy dollars,” she said.

Businesses can obtain a box by contacting Casey Smith, Public Health’s Community Overdose Action Team project manager, at 937-225-6026.

Overdose deaths at work from non-medical use of drugs or alcohol increased 38% annually between 2013 and 2016, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 217 workplace overdose deaths reported in 2016 accounted for 4.2% of occupational injury deaths that year, compared with 1.8% in 2013.

Workplaces that serve the public like libraries, restaurants and parks may also have visitors prone to overdose, according to the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team Medical Reserve Corps, developers of the NaloxBox program.

An opioid overdose depresses a person’s ability to breathe on their own which can lead to death. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that removes the opioid from the receptors of the brain, blocking the drug’s effects and allowing the individual to start breathing again.

Streck said deputies now administer hundreds of doses of naloxone a year, something many did only begrudgingly when they began carrying the drug in 2017.

“I will tell you it was not very popular. We received many more negative comments than we ever did positive,” he said. ”

Today, deputies follow up with people they’ve brought back to life and cheer on their recovery, Streck said.

Each time naloxone is used could be “the time the individual decides it’s time to change my life,” he said.

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