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Plan would distribute opioid overdose reversal drug in Douglas County; commission to consider funding request

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Lawrence-based nonprofit DCCCA, which among its services provides substance use treatment, has a plan to distribute a lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug throughout Douglas County.

County commissioners on Wednesday will hear about the plan to place nasal naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, in strategic locations throughout the community.

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The FDA-approved, over-the-counter treatment blocks the effects of opiates on the brain and restores breathing. It’s effective against all opiates — heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and similar prescription and street drugs — although some overdoses may take multiple naloxone doses to reverse. There is also an injectable version of naloxone.

“Through coordination with EMS, law enforcement, and community partners, DCCCA and Engage Douglas County are well-positioned to support the implementation of an integrated distribution project designed to reduce and prevent overdose deaths through education, training, and increased access to naloxone,” Bob Tryanski, the county’s director of behavioral health projects, wrote in a memo to the commission.

In the plan’s first phase, DCCCA would place ONEbox devices — kits that contain a nasal naloxone kit and a brief training video — in 10 to 15 locations, including the Baldwin City, Eudora and Lawrence public libraries, and one per block from Sixth through 12th streets in downtown Lawrence, according to the memo. The devices come from the Drug Intervention Institute, a nonprofit based in West Virginia.

In the second phase, DCCCA would place vending machines that contain between 54 and 150 doses of Narcan.

“DCCCA will provide staff training at locations where the (ONEbox) units and vending machines are placed and restock the units as needed,” Tryanski wrote.

The first two phases would cost an estimated $47,570 total. That includes $15,250 for the ONEbox kits and $32,320 for the vending machines. Those estimates also include the staff time to restock the units for one year, according to the agenda.

“Funding to support this initiative would be drawn from Opioid Settlement funds,” Tryanski wrote in the memo.

Kansas residents and organizations can request a free Narcan kit from DCCCA and learn about how it works at this link.

The Douglas County Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Commissioners hear public comment from those in attendance in person and virtually via Zoom. Join the Zoom meeting at this link. See the full meeting agenda at this link.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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