State, UK launch narcan program to reduce overdose deaths

Life-saving resource available through federal grant, study

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear announced that through a federal grant the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky (UK) are administering Narcan, a brand name for the medicine naloxone, in 16 counties at no cost to help reduce overdose deaths.

Through the HEALing Communities Study – a partnership between UK and the Department of Corrections (DOC) – Kentuckians under community supervision, including their family and friends, living in or reporting to Probation and Parole offices located in Boyd, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Kenton and Madison counties can receive Narcan free of charge. As of today, more than 500 units have been distributed. Eight more counties will be added to the program this summer.

“I have witnessed firsthand how Narcan can save the life of someone who has overdosed, and my administration remains committed to providing this life-saving medicine,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today’s announcement is one more step we are taking to fight the drug epidemic that has taken far too many Kentuckians.”

Individuals interested in receiving Narcan must watch a nine-minute training video, answer a few brief questions and submit a mailing address. To receive a free dose of Narcan, click here. Participation is confidential, and personal information is not shared with other agencies.

In 2019, Kentucky was selected by the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as one of only four states to participate in the HEALing Communities Study to investigate how tools for preventing and treating opioid misuse and opioid use disorder are most effective at the local level. A major goal of the study is to expand access to Narcan to help prevent and stop opioid overdoses.

“We appreciate this partnership with HEAL to provide life-saving medication to our clients,” said DOC Division of Addiction Services Director Sarah G. Johnson. “The opioid epidemic has caused devastation across the commonwealth, and as a result too many people have lost their lives to this disease. This program is essential, along with making sure people have access to treatment for their opioid use disorder and are able to work toward recovery.”

“We are grateful to DOC for their partnership in reducing opioid overdose deaths. It’s well-documented that overdose education combined with naloxone saves lives,” said HEALing Communities Study Co-Investigator Carrie Oser. “In collaboration with DOC, we’ve been able to provide overdose education, get naloxone into more people’s hands and provide peer recovery support services for clients on medication treatment for their opioid use disorder.”

In addition to the program locations, the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) makes available Narcan at no cost to law enforcement agencies in all 120 counties. ODCP also assists Kentuckians with locating a Narcan dispenser.

The 2020 Overdose Fatality Report released by ODCP indicates that more than 1,964 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2020, a 49% increase compared with the year prior. For more information on the study’s research on the impact community intervention has on reducing overdose deaths in Kentucky, click here.

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