Free Narcan kits are a step in the right direction

Logo of Lexington-Fayette Health Department, provided by Communications Officer Kevin Hall. 

Logo of Lexington-Fayette Health Department, provided by Communications Officer Kevin Hall. 

Editorial Board

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center began distributing Narcan kits for certain hours every Friday at no cost in mid-October. The kits helps to reverse opioid overdoses.

On Oct. 20, the program gave out 28 Narcan kits, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department Communications Officer Kevin Hall said. He added that the response was overwhelming, and almost everyone who took a kit thanked the program for providing a life-saving medicine.

“One person told us this program keeps them alive until they’re ready to enter rehab,” Hall said. “The grant from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, part of the UK College of Public Health, is saving lives and changing lives.”

For almost the past two years, the opioid epidemic has been at the forefront of Kentuckians minds as heroin and fentanyl overdoses continue to skyrocket with no end in sight. In a 2016 report, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy said 1,404 fentanyl and heroin deaths occurred in Kentucky compared to 1,248 deaths in 2015. President Trump finally declared an opioid crisis a health emergency toward the end of the October

These kits are a vital necessity in keeping central kentucky residents alive while they may not have access to rehabilitation, but we must actively look for long-term solutions as a community. While a step in the right direction, we must actively search for an end to the opioid crisis, such as providing rehabilitation treatments. A Narcan kit can only revive someone; treatment can allow someone to live independent from addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most who get into a treatment facility and stay there are more likely to stop drug use. However, it is extremely difficult to get this help.

Those checking into private, residential treatment centers won’t be able to work during their full-time stay, The Fix said, and thus, they may not be able to afford their treatment. This type of rehabilitation can also cost $25,000 to $30,000 a month, and if someone seeking treatment is lucky enough to have insurance, their plan most likely only covers two to four weeks of treatment.

Kentucky lawmakers are already taking some action regarding the opioid crisis in the Commonwealth. The Courier-Journal reported about a day-long discussion involving state legislators and addiction experts back in September. Currently, House Bill 333 passed and made its way to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk and would make it a felony to “sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs tied to an increase in drug overdoses in Kentucky.”

The state’s next move must be to fund treatment facilities across Kentucky and use a treatment-first approach, not a criminalizing one.

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