Health system installs free Narcan vending machines

To combat the growing number of opioid overdoses, a Michigan health system has installed free Narcan vending machines.

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WOOD-TV reported that Cherry Health and the Grand Rapids Red Project installed the machines at two health centers — one in Grand Rapids and the other in Greenville.

Narcan overdose reversal kits will be provided for free and will be available 24 hours a day.

Narcan, otherwise known as the generic medication naloxone, blocks opioid receptors and reverses the effects of opioids. When someone has overdosed, naloxone can restore normal breathing when their breathing has slowed or stopped, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Naloxone is given when someone shows signs of an opioid overdose from using such drugs as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. Naloxone can be either given through a nasal spray or injected into a muscle.

The NIH has shared the signs of an overdose, which include:

  • Unconsciousness.
  • Small pupils.
  • Slow or shallow breathing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Inability to speak.
  • Faint heartbeat.
  • Limp arms and legs.
  • Pale skin.
  • Purple lips and fingernails.

The Michigan vending machines are not the only ones rolled out.

Philadelphia installed a Narcan vending machine in West Philadelphia’s Free Library in February, WHYY reported. The library is in a neighborhood that had the highest increase in overdoses in 2021. The library system has also seen its fair share of overdoses. Officials said that since 2015, there had been 54 overdoses in branch locations and in more than 40% of the cases, library employees administered naloxone.

Vine Grove, Kentucky, also installed the first Narcan vending machine in the state in October. Within a day, the machine, which was located outside of the city’s police department, had been emptied of the medication, WLKY reported.

In Washington state, a woman credits the availability of Narcan via a vending machine for saving her brother’s life.

“If we hadn’t had that vending machine, I might not have had my brother alive today,” LuDene LoyaltyGroves told The Wall Street Journal in October. Her brother was living in a homeless encampment in Moses Lake and other people living there got Narcan from a vending machine at the shelter where LoyaltyGroves works and used it to revive her brother several times.

Some machines don’t just carry Narcan. Some also have free snacks, condoms, socks and/or fentanyl test kits — all for free. They are being installed in fire stations, jails, churches and other publicly accessible areas, the newspaper reported.

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