The Division of Public Health recently announced the Community Naloxone Distribution Initiative.

DPH will distribute free naloxone kits to the general public at events in each county in March. The first event will be held March 2 in conjunction with the annual atTAcK addiction 5K race starting at St. Peter’s Church, 515 Harmony St., New Castle. The remaining dates and event locations will be announced as details are finalized.

Each naloxone kit will contain two doses of naloxone, and community members who attend these events will receive one-on-one training on how to administer the overdose-reversing medication. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health also will have representatives on hand to answer any questions about access to treatment for those struggling with substance use disorder.

“It is critically important for family and friends of loved ones struggling with addiction to have access to naloxone,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The data are telling us that 80 percent of overdoses happen in a residence. If family or friends of someone overdosing have naloxone immediately accessible, it can mean the difference between life or death for that person.”

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, which buys time for emergency medical help to arrive. DPH recommends calling 911 immediately if someone is in the midst of a suspected overdose, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone. Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care and seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital.

There were at least 291 deaths in 2018 in Delaware from suspected overdoses. The final number is expected to exceed 400 after all toxicology screens are finished — they take six to eight weeks — and final death determinations are made on outstanding cases by the Division of Forensic Science. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Delaware as number six in the nation for overdose deaths in 2017.

Information on community training and pharmacy access to naloxone, along with resources regarding prevention, treatment and recovery are available at helpisherede.com.