Overdose Awareness Day: Narcan vending machine now open to help prevent opioid overdose deaths

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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DuPage County Health Dept. opened a free Narcan vending machine in Wheaton to help save lives this International Overdose Awareness Day.

WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- A life-saving vending machine was unveiled in Wheaton on International Overdose Awareness Day, a global campaign to end overdoses and remember those who have died from them.

According to the CDC, more than 107,000 people died from overdoses in the United States last year, an increase of 15%.

The city of Chicago has seen a huge increase in the number of overdoses and deaths in the last year.

Experts at Loretto Hospital demonstrated how to administer Narcan to patients suffering an opioid overdose.

The idea is to keep people who suffer from an overdose alive, and Narcan is usually the best way to do it. It looks like an ordinary nasal spray, but if you're suffering from an overdose, it can reverse the effects and restore breathing and brain function, keeping you alive until emergency help arrives.

"If you're in a place where someone's possibly having an overdose, please step in and save someone's life possibly," said Fred Smith, with Maryville Academy.

SEE ALSO | US life expectancy lowest in decades after plunging nearly a year in 2021, CDC says

"Narcan is the first step in the long journey of recovery," said Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.

In DuPage County, a Narcan vending machine might save the life of someone suffering from an opioid overdose. Each box contains two doses, and it's free. It's now open at the Linda A. Kurzawa Community Center, located at 115 North County Farm Road in Wheaton.

"We want to make this Narcan available to anyone who has heard about it," said Mila Tsagalis, at DuPage County Health Dept. "They can keep a dose at home."

DuPage County saw a 5% increase last year in overdose deaths, and they say the trend is continuing this year. But the numbers could be much higher. They've used Narcan more than 1,300 times in the last eight years to save the life of someone overdosing.

"We're seeing that with increases in fentanyl, which is even more powerful than heroin, that people are overdosing and dying very suddenly," Ayala said.

DuPage community leaders got a look at the vending machine and learned more about Narcan Wednesday afternoon. The health department is hoping to distribute it widely throughout the community, and remind people to also call 911.

"We've seen many instances when somebody has been saved by Narcan," said Jeff Lata, at DuPage County Health Dept. "Oftentimes they're transported to a hospital afterward."

The vending machine also has a QR code which takes you to the HopeDupage website where you can get information about treatment.