Opioid overdose reversal kits placed in town buildings

Opioid overdose reversal kits placed in town buildings

Town Manager Randy Rossi displays a NaloBox, which will be placed at Town Hall, the libraries, schools and the Smithfield Police Department. They are rescue kits containing Narcan nasal spray designed to prevent death by opioid overdose.

SMITHFIELD – Town Hall, the libraries, schools and the Smithfield Police Department will now be home to NaloxBox, rescue kits containing Narcan nasal spray designed to prevent death by opioid overdose.

Town Manager Randy Rossi presented the kits during a town meeting on opioid addiction, mental disorder and treatment on April 30 at the Smithfield Police Department.

Rossi said the defibrillator-sized boxes are an important tool brought to Smithfield through a partnership with the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition in preventing overdose deaths in town, and will be distributed at the end of May.

“This epidemic has a town-wide effect,” Rossi said.

The kits feature the overdose treatment Narcan, which delivers reversal drug naloxone. First responders at the meeting warned that multiple doses of Narcan are sometimes needed to stop an overdose, and said to always call 911 in an emergency situation.

Chief Richard St. Sauveur told of getting back-to-back opioid overdose calls in one day in the previous week. He said the opioid epidemic is as real in Smithfield as anywhere else in the U.S.

“Unfortunately, it’s alive in well in Smithfield,” the chief said.

St. Sauveur said anyone who needed to use an overdose prevention method on another person is protected from harm by the Good Samaritan Law.

The chief said the Smithfield Police Department worked with the Tri-County South Providence Regional Prevention Coalition to bring multiple speakers to address several angles related to opioid addiction, including education, personal experience, and treatment.

Recovery specialist Cathy Schultz talked about her experience while in addiction, and her path to recovery. She said part of her sobriety is due to her continued dialogue about substance abuse disorder. She said it often becomes a family disease complete with shame and humility.

“What we found in our community is that families are very much affected by this, but are more embarrassed or afraid to talk about it. The way to break the stigma is to talk about it,” Schultz said.

Dr. Matt Malek addressed the science and figures behind opioid use. While heroin and methamphetamine are naturally derived from opium, pharmacists created cleaner synthetic opiates, such as fentanyl, that are much more powerful.

Between 2014 and 2017, the rate of deadly overdose in Smithfield was 11 per 100,000 people, Malek said. That’s in contrast to Providence and Woonsocket, where the rate was 50 fatal overdoses per 100,000. He said Smithfield may have lower numbers, but the effects are still present.

“This is only data for death-resulting overdose. It is easy to underestimate the frequency of overdoses,” Malek said.

Malek said three-quarters of people who used heroin in the last year said they misused prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone first.

“It starts with doctors as medicine,” Malek said. He said doctors understand the consequences to over-prescribing and are cutting back on prescribing opioids.

He said many school-aged children first get into opiates through family drug cabinets, using leftover pills prescribed to family members. Tri-County director and prevention specialist Patricia Sweet said properly disposing of unused opioid prescription is vital in stopping misuse.

Sweet said 75 percent or more who get drugs are getting it from their friends and families. She said she encourages anyone with extra or expired pain prescriptions to dispose of the pills.

The Police Department has a prescription drop box in the entrance of the station, and can provide take-home disposal kits, called the Dexterra drug deactivation system, to people who cannot make it to the station.

“Count it, lock it, and drop it,” Sweet said.

The department cannot accept fluids or syringes for disposal. Flushing prescriptions is unsafe for the environment.

Prescriptions for Narcan, which can be used to stop an overdose, can be picked up from any pharmacy using health insurance. In the case of an emergency, always call 911.

Tri-County Community Action Agency provides counseling for individuals and families as well as medication-assisted treatment for patients with an opioid use disorder. For more information, contact the health center at 401-519-1940. For assistance with a licensed counselor to help with questions about treatment, recovery support and recovery housing, call the Hope and Recovery Support line at 401-942-7867.