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Thursday, December 1, 2022

DOH-Marion providing free naloxone in effort to reduce substance abuse deaths

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) has announced the availability of free naloxone nasal spray kits.

This lifesaving medication, known commercially as Narcan, could help reduce thousands of substance abuse deaths across the state, according to DOH-Marion. Each kit will consist of two naloxone nasal sprays that are administered even without a health care professional present.

DOH-Marion states that Naloxone is available to people who use drugs, people with a history of drug use, others at risk of experiencing an overdose, as well as friends, family members, and others who may witness an overdose.

“Given the number of fatal overdoses experienced in our community, we at DOH-Marion are proud to be able to provide this free, lifesaving treatment to potential overdose victims,” said Florida Department of Health in Marion County Administrator Mark Lander. “Too many lives have been lost because of these substances, including fentanyl, and we must do all we can to prevent further tragedies in our community.”

Marion County Commissioner Kathy Bryant said, “It’s important that our community continues to be strong and supportive of ways to provide more efficient and enhanced treatment to those struggling with addiction.”

“As someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one due to this epidemic, I understand the importance of having a readily available Narcan kit. It is one more step we can take to help reduce death by overdose here in Marion County,” added Commissioner Bryant.

Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose by restoring breathing and consciousness within minutes of being administered to a person who has overdosed.

DOH-Marion states that naloxone can be administered by a bystander, including a non-healthcare professional, before emergency medical assistance becomes available. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care.

When an opioid overdose is suspected, individuals should immediately call 911 prior to  administering naloxone.

Anyone requesting a naloxone kit from DOH-Marion must be at least 18 years old and be at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose, or be a caregiver who may witness an opioid overdose, or someone likely to experience or witness an opioid overdose.

Naloxone kits can be obtained at DOH-Marion’s main office (1801 SE 32nd Avenue in Ocala) and satellite clinic (7055 SE 110th Street Road in Belleview). DOH-Marion clients may request up to five kits.

Naloxone kits are free, and no appointment is necessary to obtain one. Those who receive naloxone will also receive educational materials, referrals, and connections for substance-abuse intervention.

A critical component in battling the opioid epidemic is to increase access to naloxone, especially in rural areas or counties with limited access to health care, according to DOH-Marion. Health officials feel that providing naloxone through county health departments will increase support to individuals across the state who are dealing with substance use disorder while also helping to prevent overdose deaths in Florida.

On July 8, 2022, a public health and safety alert was issued by the Florida Department of Health to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose. Click here to access print and digital educational materials that can help identify symptoms of an overdose.

DOH-Marion is working with the Florida Department of Children and Families through the Overdose Prevention Program (I Save FL), which facilitates the distribution of naloxone kits to families, friends, and caregivers of those at risk for an opioid overdose. The ‘I Save FL’ website provides information on finding naloxone in your community and resources on treatment, overdose education, and prevention.

This effort complements the Florida Department of Health’s HEROS (Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support) program, which provides free naloxone to emergency-response agencies.

This initiative is part of the state’s response to the overdose crisis. Last month, Governor Ron DeSantis launched the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) program — the first of its kind in the nation — to provide comprehensive and sustainable care to those affected by substance use disorder. Marion County was among the first 12 counties to receive CORE designation.

There are multiple local entities available to help individuals with substance use disorder. Marion County residents can call 352-266-4769 to speak with someone 24/7 to get connected to help. For an overview of what treatment may be available, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health in Marion County’s website.