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Tampa Bay health departments give free Narcan kits to residents, hope to combat rise in opioid overdose deaths

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – As overdose deaths are on the rise, health departments in Tampa Bay are giving out free Narcan kits to help combat the opioid epidemic in Florida.

It’s part of a statewide program.

It’s administered as a nasal spray and can reverse an opioid overdose. Anyone over the age of 18 can pick up a kit in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

There’s been nearly 2,000 fatal overdoses in Florida this year, according to state leaders. That’s why a pilot program has begun to help disrupt the opioid epidemic by distributing naloxone, known by its brand name, Narcan.

“Giving naloxone isn’t just helping somebody. It’s not enablement, it’s not enabling somebody to go back and to reusing, is part of addiction and it’s going to happen, but it gives them a second chance to go and seek treatment and stick with it,” said Marianne Dean, Overdose Data to Action Coordinator with Pinellas County Department of Health.

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In Pinellas County last year, one person died from an overdose, on average, every 14 hours, according to the county’s opioid task force. There were 484 opioid-related overdose deaths in total.

“Pinellas County overdoses are on the rise. There are a lot of programs out there to assist with getting people into treatment and cutting into overdoses before they occur, however, the data does show we’re really not making a lot of progress,” said Dean.

Dean said providing free Narcan to residents will save lives. County data shows Pinellas County first responders were called to nearly 7,000 suspected overdose calls in 2021.

“Instead of waiting two or three minutes for EMS to arrive, and that’s being very gracious that they can get there in that amount of time, that the administration of aid can happen within 30 seconds,” she said.

While Narcan can keep a person alive, it’s not a forever fix. It’s still important to call 911.

There are also resources to help those break the cycle of addiction.

The “Coordinated Opioid Recovery” (CORE) is the first of its kind in the U.S. in terms of opioid recovery.

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If you are looking for information on addiction treatment or services, call 1-888-727-6398 and a representative will assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To learn about CORE initiatives in Pinellas County, call 727-568-8193 or email [email protected] There are also other resources here.

Source: WFLA

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