SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY -- San Joaquin County is continuing to battle the opioid crisis head-on, using a grant to provide families and agencies with Narcan to combat overdoses.
The department has had over 900 doses of Narcan, commonly known as naxolone, to give since November. They said they have seen an increase in families coming in for it since Demi Lovato’s apparent overdose over a week ago, even though that was not directly connected to opioids.
"It is just as important to have Narcan if you are at risk of opioid overdose as it is for someone with an allergy to have an EpiPen or someone with asthma having their rescue inhaler," said San Joaquin County Public Health Services Senior Deputy Director Zienna Blackwell-Rodriquez. "This is a life-saving drug and if you use, you should have Narcan."
Lily Pad Living, a recovery and transitional living home for women and children in Stockton that opened in March, plans to get several of the 909 doses of Narcan the county is offering for the 16 people they have in the residence.
"While they are in recovery we know there may be situations where they do have a lapse. We know we may have future incoming residents who may have a lapse as well," said Stephanie Braithwaite, the owner of Lily Pad Living. "So we want to be able to prevent deaths. We want to be able to prevent such a tragedy and being able to have that Narcan on site, readily available, will enable us to do that."
The county had 57 overdoses last year and hope to distribute the remaining 500 doses from their stock to families and individuals who are at risk of opioid overdoses.
"It’s not necessarily the marginalized population, where we would like to think that it’s maybe the homeless or the poor or gangs," Blackwell-Rodriquez said. "Actually, opioids affect all of us. There’s probably people in your office or in my office that have been prescribed opioid medication after a surgery and have become addicted."
Public Health says people have been thankful that they can get their hands on the nasal spray and believe the discussion about opioid abuse is gaining traction, a traction places like Lily Pad Living say will help in recovery.
"We know that Narcan is just one small step in putting a dent in the opioid crisis," Braithwaite said. "Another big part of that is recovery residences. Using those things in conjunction and really being able to work and promote those things with the county and city agencies is going to be absolutely crucial for us and we are absolutely on board and ready to do so."
The department says while people believe this will only encourage more people to potentially overdose, they believe the feeling after using Narcan is enough of a deterrent to not have to use it. If you or a family member are interested in getting Narcan from public health, you can call and set up a time to pick up a Narcan package.