The County of San Diego is readying a new tool to help fight the growing number of opioid overdoses in the region.
The County will install 12 naloxone vending machines throughout the region by next summer, with half of them scheduled to go up by the end of this year.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a medication used to reverse overdoses by restoring normal breathing. The drug can prevent overdose deaths if used quickly and followed by medical treatment.
“Naloxone is a proven lifesaver in overdose situations and San Diego County Behavioral Health Services and its partners are working hard to expand access,” said Nicole Esposito, the County’s chief population health officer. “The enhanced distribution of naloxone into the hands of community members is vital in saving lives that might otherwise be lost to overdose.”
Risks related to substance use and opioid-related drug overdoses have been on the rise in the region for the last couple of years.
Based on preliminary data, nearly 900 people died from accidental opioid overdoses in San Diego County in 2021. That’s a 55% increase compared to 2020.
A comprehensive effort
The goal of the County’s Naloxone Distribution Program is to disseminate 33,000 naloxone kits by June 30 of next year.
Use of the vending machines will be open to anyone in the community 18 years of age or older.
Registration and use will be anonymous and free of charge. Anyone who wishes to access the vending machines must first complete an online training. Once completed, individuals will receive a pin to access naloxone from the vending machines.
The Naloxone Distribution Program directly aligns with San Diego County’s Comprehensive Harm Reduction Strategy, which was approved by the County Board of Supervisors last year. The program provides wrap-around services for San Diegans who use drugs.
In addition to the naloxone vending machines, the effort includes targeted outreach and training and partnerships with community-based programs.
Treatment is available
The County funds residential and outpatient treatment programs across the region to help people recover from substance use disorders.
Participation in treatment and recovery services improves wellbeing, can reunite families and loved ones, and also improves overall health.
Substance use treatment resources are available by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240, calling 9-8-8 or by calling 2-1-1.