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Ingham County Jail could receive vending machine offering free naloxone kits

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The Ingham County Jail could soon house a vending machine that gives away medication to reverse opioid overdoses.

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners is consideringwhether to offer a medication to reverse opioid overdoses for free outside of the county jail.

During an opioid overdose, the drug overwhelms a person’s body so much so that it can interrupt the automatic drive to breathe, eventually leading to death. But if administered quickly, a naloxone kit can reverse those effects. Narcan is the non-generic name for this type of medication. A person overdosing is not able to give themselves the medication due to the effects of the overdose.

Through a potential partnership with Wayne State University, a vending machine that distributes free naloxone kits could be installed outside of the Ingham County Jail.

“All you will need to do is stand in front of a machine, press whichever button, and a kit will drop and you can walk away with the free kit,” said Danielle Lenz, program assistant at the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State University.

Wayne State has received funds from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to station these vending machines across the state at no cost. Wayne State has installed 20 of these machines across the state and this year they plan to place 22.

Lenz says they are intentionally working to place these near prisons and jails because of how high risk this population is of dying from an opioid overdose. According to a 2013 study, a high rate of death, particularly from drug-related causes, has been documented in former prisoners in the early post-release period.

Last year, Wayne State worked to place a vending machine outside of the Jackson County jail and this year they are planning to add one to the Isabella County jail.

“We know that there's a strong need for folks to help decrease that risk of fatal overdose upon released into the community,” Lenz added. “And so in our mind, this is a perfect setting to place these machines in.”

Each machine is accompanied by a QR code that provides easy-to-use instructions via a smartphone.

“The QR code will lead to an app that will help the individual getting the naloxone walk through the process of recognizing an opioid overdose and step-by-step instructions on how to initiate a reversal of an overdose using naloxone,” Lenz said.

Lenz says each machine can provide up to two kits at once. In general, the cost of one intranasal kit can range anywhere from $22 to $60 dollars, according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance. In Michigan, anyone can walk into qualified pharmacies and request a naloxone kit without a prescription. That’s because of a bill passed in 2016 allowing individuals to use naloxone in an emergency situation regardless of a prescription.

The Ingham County Board of Commissioner’s Law and Courts Committee plans to discuss a resolution on the free naloxone kits at its meeting Thursday evening. Those interested in participating can attend virtually or in person at the Ingham County Human Services Building in Lansing at 6 p.m.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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