HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. — After seeing a major spike in opioid-related deaths, Hendricks County health officials are joining a statewide initiative to help reverse that trend. They are now providing free overdose-reversal kits to anyone who wants one – no questions asked.
Thanks to state funding issued earlier this year, a NaloxBox can now be found in three locations across Hendricks county: The Journey Church in Avon, the Brownsburg Public Library, and Family Promise Resource Center in Plainfield.
Each NaloxBox is filled with overdose-reversal medication kits that include:
- A single dose of Naloxone – a prescription medicine used for the treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose emergency
- Instructions on how to administer the drug
- Symptoms to look for in the event of an overdose
- Resources for those battling with addiction
“We do have Naloxone available at several locations throughout the county at pharmacies and at the health department,” said Michael Aviah, Public Health Education Specialist for the Hendricks County Health Department. “We provide it for free, but we’ve never had it as a publicly accessible item so this is the first time this has happened.”
Aviah said some people feel scared or intimidated coming to the health department or buying the drug from local pharmacies, but a NaloxBox is completely anonymous and confidential.
“It really can happen to anyone and the more people that are equipped to handle it, I think, the better the chances are of saving that person’s life,” said Aviah.
The Hendricks County Health Department said opioid-related deaths were on the decline since 2017, but then the pandemic hit. Aviah said the health department saw a total of 50 opioid-related deaths due to overdoses in 2020. This year, Aviah said that trend continues to climb with more than 70 deaths so far.
Advocates at Family Promise in Plainfield jumped at the opportunity to have a NolaxBox installed at their resource center. They stress that you do not need to be struggling with addiction yourself to pick one up.
“I think it’s important that everyone has it because you never know when you’re going to be the only one standing there when someone’s going through something like that,” said Melody Carlson, a family advocate with Family Promise.
Carlson said an estimated 100 Hoosiers walk through the doors of Family Promise’s resource center everyday and roughly 10-20% either currently struggle with substance abuse disorder or it has affected them in some way in the past.
“We are sort of ground zero for a lot of people in our community struggling,” said Carlson.
She works with shelter families who are currently experiencing homelessness and tries to get them into permanent housing
Family Promise provides shelter to men, women, and families experiencing homelessness or poverty. Advocates help connect these Hoosiers with rental assistance, housing, food and transportation. Carlson said these NaloxBoxes are just one more life-saving tool in their toolbox.
“Many of us carry it in our purses, we have it in all the desks, we have it in prominent places – we just want to remove the stigma,” said Carlson.
Health officials said naloxone is not meant to treat addiction, but rather keep an overdose victim alive so they can get the help they need.
“It is more like CPR – it’s not going to treat the addiction but it keeps the person alive so they can have another chance later to fight for that recovery,” Carlson said.
To learn more about available substance abuse resources in Hendricks County, click here.