Opioid Overdose-Reversal Medication is Free to the Public

Photos by Salvador Mendoza

Photos by Salvador Mendoza

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To help combat overdose deaths, it’s vital for people to carry naloxone and encourage those who are using opioids to not use alone. Through its NARCAN ® Distribution Collaborative, Hamilton County Public Health distributes NARCAN (naloxone) to the public for free.

The nasal spray reverses opioid overdoses, and it’s easy to use. You simply put the nozzle into the person’s nose and press the plunger to release the naloxone. However, it may take more than one dose of NARCAN to revive someone, which is why you should call 911 first. When medics arrive on the scene, they can provide additional doses and provide additional care.

“We want to keep people alive until they’re ready for treatment,” says Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram. “It’s no good if someone has NARCAN on them and they’re unconscious. They have to give it to a loved one, partner, friend, spouse, daughter, son, nephew, anyone.”

Using opioids in the presence of someone else can mean the difference between life and death. Due to the rise of fentanyl; heroin, meth, cocaine and other narcotics are more dangerous than in previous years — especially for those with a lower tolerance. If someone is carrying NARCAN, an overdose doesn’t have to end in fatality.

The NARCAN Distribution Collaborative began with a research question: If we distribute naloxone in the community, will we reduce the overdose death rates due to opioids?

The project is guided by data, and last year’s results were promising. In Hamilton County, overdose deaths decreased by over 31 percent, and the NARCAN Distribution Collaborative was one of the main factors in this decline. In 2018, over 25,000 doses of NARCAN were distributed in the community. And, as of April, over 10,000 have been distributed in 2019.

As more people carry NARCAN, health officials and community members hope to see a larger decrease in overdose deaths and emergency visits this year.

Opioid use disorder is chronic disease, no different than many other diseases. Health professionals are learning about its progression every day. Thanks to initiatives like the NARCAN Distribution Collaborative, the community can take positive steps forward.

“Don’t be ashamed if you’re sick,” Ingram says. “If you don’t carry NARCAN and someone dies, that’s the real tragedy.”

NARCAN Pick-Up LocationS:

Cincinnati NARCAN distribution main locations / illustration by Emma Jenkins

Cincinnati NARCAN distribution main locations / illustration by Emma Jenkins

Hamilton County Justice Center, South Tower

900 Sycamore Street

Thursday, 12 - 4 p.m.

Saturday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Hamilton County Public Health

184 E McMillan

Monday, 12 - 4 p.m.

Friday, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

The Exchange Project

Multiple Locations & Hours

(513) 316-7725

NARCAN is also distributed at many city-wide festivals and events.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can use NARCAN?

Anyone. When you pick up your NARCAN kit, you will go through a short, 10-minute training so you know how to use the nasal spray correctly.

Does it cost any money?

No. NARCAN is free of charge at the locations above.

When does NARCAN expire?

It generally has a two-year shelf life. Each kit is marked with an expiration date.

How many doses come in one kit of NARCAN?

2 doses.

How many doses does it take to reverse an overdose?

It depends on the situation. It could take up to four doses, which is why you need to call 911 before giving the first dose.