A vending machine that can carry up to 150 units of naloxone, the opioid-reversing medicine, has been put in the lobby of the Forsyth County Detention Center to make that transition safer for drug users.
According to a drug use educator with the county's Forsyth Regional Opioid and Substance Use Team, naloxone is freely available to anybody and needs no interaction with staff. FROST, as it is known in the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, is made up of community leaders striving to stop drug use.
Forsyth County is one of five counties in the state to get a vending machine as a result of National Center for State Courts funding. Wilkes, Buncombe, Pitt, and Cumberland are the other counties that implemented a similar approach.
The educator also stated that officials are searching for smart methods to distribute naloxone and enhance overdose prevention efforts within the justice-involved community.
Each vending machine package contains two doses of naloxone, as well as instructions in English and Spanish. A QR code on the machine also gives information about treatment and detoxification clinics, as well as shelter and food services.
According to a 2018 UNC-Chapel Hill research, former convicts were 40 times more likely than the general population to die of an opioid overdose in the first two weeks following release.
The Twin City Harm Reduction Collective and the health department are restocking the naloxone machine. It was installed on August 24, and within a few days, 89 of the 150 kits had been claimed.
Over the last several years, the usage of vending machines to deliver naloxone has grown across the country. Their increased use coincides with an alarming increase in the incidence of fatal overdoses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 108,000 people will die from an overdose in 2021, with opioids accounting for more than 80,000 of those deaths.
According to current N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data, North Carolina, is on track to surpass a record 3,961 overdose fatalities in 2021.