Austin’s First-Ever Free Narcan Vending Machine Gets Big Response
PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
Earlier this year, Travis County declared a public health crisis due to the astounding increase in fatal drug overdoses, which are currently the leading cause of accidental deaths in Travis County. Deaths from fentanyl-laced drugs more than tripled from 2020 to 2021.
THE LIFE-SAVING MEDICATION
Narcan is a life-saving nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is carried by all of Austin's first responders. Free Narcan is given out through a state ran distribution program, More Narcan Please. However, the program depleted its entire funding just five months into the fiscal year.
A NEW PROJECT
Recently, a vending machine popped up on a wall outside of Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center. The machine dispenses free Narcan as part of a supportive effort from The NICE Project, which stands for Narcan in Case of Emergency.
Em Gray, the organizer of The NICE Project had high hopes when setting up the vending machine however, she didn't realize how fast the machine would blow up. “I thought I had enough (Narcan) to get through a couple of months, but I have pretty much blown through that in a week.”
HOPES OF EXPANSION
Lucas Hill, director of the Texas Opioid Training Initiative, admitted, “We need naloxone everywhere. We need it easily and freely accessible.” Gray has hopes of expansion for the much-needed support.