February 22, 2019
In a first for the State of Utah, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Utah Naloxone and the Utah Opioid Task Force to launch an experimental program to supply Naloxone rescue kits to inmates upon release, and to their close support network.
Listen in here.
As you might guess, this population is highly at-risk of an overdose. The goal is to make tools available to save more lives and give people a fighting chance at redemption.
This new access program is a result of the combined efforts of people in medicine, public health, law enforcement, criminal justice, and the hundreds of thousands of family members who have either lost someone or are at risk of losing someone to an overdose.
An Innovative Solution
Studies have shown that within the first two weeks of an inmate’s release from incarceration, inmates are 40 times more likely to die of an overdose. The Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, the Utah Opioid Task Force, and Utah Naloxone recognized the importance of supplying this vulnerable population and worked out an innovative solution. If this proves successful, other law enforcement agencies may follow suit.
“This will save lives. I guarantee you. This will save lives that we would have reached no other way,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb with Utah Naloxone.
While Naloxone kits are already accessible to the public, most people are either unaware or feel uncomfortable purchasing a kit. As of November 1st, 2018, Utah’s Naloxone access program has saved 2608 lives.
Dr. Plumb stressed the importance of educating and equipping the support network of those at-risk of overdose. In some instances, it may take police officers and first responders too long to arrive on the scene in order to administer Naloxone or perform life-saving measures. Educating and supplying family members and friends with Naloxone rescue kits saves lives by allowing a friend or family member to administer the medication, beginning the reversal process quickly, and allowing more time for first responders to arrive.
Lives are irreplaceable. In 2017, 73,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses.
To their credit, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office understands the importance of finding strategies that work. “We need to get as many kits as we can into as many hands as we can. Just because you’re currently dealing with addiction, doesn’t mean you’re not worth saving,” said Uintah County Sheriff Steve Labrum.
The need to educate and supply people with Naloxone rescue kits is not reserved to inmates and those close to them. Brian Besser of the Utah DEA urged the importance of saturation and educating everyone.
“We have to make our churches, our schools, our government entities, our faith-based institutions, parents, every person walking on the sidewalk needs to be aware of the efficacy of not only this program but the drug itself,” said Besser.
One in six kits are used to save a life. If 500 kits were dispersed, approximately 100 lives could be saved.
“Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover every day, but you can only recover if you’re alive. Too many people are overdosing. Naloxone simply saves lives,” said Brent Kelsey with the DSAMH.
The Naloxone rescue kits are easy-to-use and cost-effective, coming to approximately $15 a vial and $30 for a whole kit. The kits are injectable, featuring large needles designed to inject into a muscle, similar to a flu shot. Although kits on the market feature other methods of inoculation, such as intranasal, the injectable kits are much more cost effective.
Kit Locations & Contact
If you need a Naloxone rescue kit, please contact Utah Naloxone.
Salt Lake County libraries also offer Naloxone kits without questions asked or names taken. Pharmacies and physicians often carry kits and can supply them without a prescription.
The AG’s Office invites you to tune in, obtain a Naloxone Rescue Kit, and help us give those who struggle a fighting chance to reclaim and rebuild their lives.