According to overdoselifeline.org, opioid overdose is the leading cause of death in the United States among adults 50 years old and younger.
WIN Recovery, a certified opioid treatment facility operated by Hamilton Center, Inc., has added another tool in its fight to battle this growing problem by establishing a “NaloxBox” at its Terre Haute location (located at 86 Wabash Court, just west of the Vigo County Courthouse). This box will distribute naloxone (also known as Narcan) for free to consumers, family members, or anyone from the public on a no questions asked basis.
Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration that is effective in preventing death by rapidly reversing the effects of an overdose from opioids, and doses distributed through the WIN Recovery NaloxBox will be administered via nasal spray.
The box was provided by Overdose Lifeline, a non-profit organization which has fought the opioid addiction problem since 2014. Designated HCI/WIN Recovery staff will monitor the box, track its usage, and order free replacement kits as needed from Overdose Lifeline’s Indianapolis office. State and federal funding has been utilized to cover the cost of the program, with support also coming from the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction.
“The NaloxBox mission is to improve the capacity of bystander rescuers to save the lives of victims of opioid overdose with overdose response tools, including naloxone,” Overdose Lifeline states on its website.
Natasha Newcomb, WIN Recovery’s deputy chief of addiction and substance abuse services, is pleased to add this naloxone distribution method to its many ways of assisting those in need.
“We know and understand that when somebody has addiction problems, they can’t always just quit,” Newcomb said. “They may want to quit, they may have tried, and they may have struggled – but sometimes they just can’t stop. Narcan is a way for them to help save their life or the life of somebody they love.”
Newcomb emphasized that the person getting the Narcan from the Naloxbox may not be the person experiencing addiction.
“It may be for their brother, their sister, their girlfriend, or their child,” she said. “It’s important to recognize that that while the box is there for people who are using substances, it is also there for people who have a loved one they are trying to save.”
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Vigo County had 179 patients admitted into emergency departments for treatment for overdoses, while 24 fatal cases were recorded.
Newcomb acknowledged someone using drugs might not to want to seek help from law enforcement or a hospital due to potential legal repercussions.
“Historically in our society, and even today, if somebody called the police because they were overdosing there’s a chance that after they were taken care of at the hospital they’d be taken to jail,” she said. “If somebody is overdosing, then they obviously have paraphernalia there, or they have substances on them because they’ve been using. People are hesitant to contact the police or go to the emergency room for the same reason. The Naloxbox removes that step.”
Newcomb noted that if someone is at a point where they think they’re going to overdose, they need to seek medical attention whether they have access to Narcan or not.
One particularly vulnerable segment of society who could benefit from the Naloxbox consists of people who have been released from incarceration.
“Individuals who return to the community after being incarcerated are 129 times more likely to suffer an overdose than the general population,” according to Overdose Lifeline. “The NaloxBox provides easy, stigma-free access to lifesaving medication – completely free of charge.”
Newcomb added that there is no limit to the number of dosages someone can receive from the Naloxbox, although hoarding is unlikely since the product has no street value. She said in some circumstances people may need to get multiple applications.
“You can’t abuse Narcan or get high from it,” she said. “People can take as many as they need. It may be that that one person takes four doses, but that person may live in a household with three other people who abuse opioids, and they may need one for each person in their household. Maybe they’re going to keep them handy because three of their friends have overdosed in the past week.”
“That’s the reality of what some of these people are seeing and living with.”
Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN. Services are provided to children, adults, and families, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues, as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.