Public Health offers free Narcan and fentanyl test strips
Harm reduction is key to reducing overdoses and drug fatalities
Media Contact: Mike Bordogna, County Manager, 970.728.3844, email@example.com
Grace Franklin, County Public Health Director, 970-728-4289, firstname.lastname@example.org
(March 29, 2023) – San Miguel County, CO --- San Miguel County’s Public Health Department (SMCPH) has recently built out a harm reduction program that includes free overdose reversal nasal spray and fentanyl test strips available to the public. Both products can save lives by reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.
The twin threats of opioid use and fentanyl-laced drugs of all kinds have already impacted numerous county residents. Opioids are a type of drug that can be both prescription and synthetic opioids, including pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl. Opioids can lead to unconsciousness and slowed breathing, which may lead to an overdose and death. Narcan is the brand name version of naloxone, a drug that blocks an opioid’s effect on the brain. Using Narcan on someone suspected of having an opioid overdose can reverse the effects in 2-3 minutes.
Getting Narcan into more households and public spaces is of utmost importance. County officials, including Public Health Director, Grace Franklin, are acutely aware that overdose deaths continue countywide.
“Just like a fire extinguisher, Narcan is a safety tool to have in public and in your home. It is a safe and easy to use overdose reversal spray,” Franklin said. “Having Narcan can mean the difference between life and death. The more people have access to this medication and know how it works can save lives.”
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan for over-the-counter sales, but additional steps are needed from the pharmaceutical company to make this widely available. This winter, SMCPH tapped into state funding to obtain these important, life-saving products. The Public Health Department was approved for a bulk fund, which enables the department to provide them to the public for free. Narcan can be picked up at the health department and staff can provide training to individuals and businesses about the resources.
Fentanyl, which is 100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, is finding its way into users’ hands in a number of different forms. Most commonly, illicit drugs have been cut with fentanyl to bulk up the product, leading to unintentional overdoses. Any drug that does not come directly from a pharmacy, should be tested for fentanyl. Common substances that can be tested include pills and injectables, including ecstasy, cocaine, and meth. San Miguel County has also received access to the state’s bulk fund for fentanyl test strips. The test strips are easy to use and provide people at risk of fentanyl exposure with more information that can decrease risk of overdose.
“We are hoping the wider availability of harm reduction tools, like Narcan and fentanyl test strips, will help prevent drug fatalities and reduce harm here and nationwide,” said San Miguel County Public Health Director, Grace Franklin.
For those seeking support with substance use, there are resources available. San Miguel County has a Behavioral Health Fund to support mental health counseling and Tri-County Health Network has a behavioral health directory to find local resources for a range of needs, including substance use.
Axis Health System offers a 24-hour help line at 970-247-5245.
To learn more about the harm reduction programs, visit San Miguel County’s Public Health page. Contact SMCPH by calling 970-728-4280, or email email@example.com.