INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced the placement of Indiana’s first-ever naloxone vending machine at the St. Joseph County Jail in South Bend. The machine is one of 19 to be placed statewide and will be available for use by the public.
“There is no single solution to ending this epidemic that has taken the lives of thousands of Hoosiers,” Gov. Holcomb said. “We can, however, take thoughtful steps to help shake the scourge of addiction from our communities. Naloxone vending machines are a practical tool to prevent overdoses and save lives.”
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a medication approved to reverse an overdose from opioids and is given when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose to block the deadly effects of the overdose.
The vending machines are manufactured by Shaffer Distribution Company and programmed to dispense free naloxone kits. Each kit includes a single dose of naloxone, instructions for use, and a referral to treatment for substance use disorder. The machine holds up to 300 naloxone kits and is free to access.
Overdose Lifeline, Inc., an Indiana nonprofit dedicated to helping those affected by substance use disorder, is partnering with the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) to identify jails, hospitals, and other community sites interested in a vending machine to distribute the lifesaving medication. Machines are confirmed to be placed in public areas of the Wayne and DuBois County jails.
Overdose Lifeline will purchase the vending machines using federal grant funds totaling $72,600 made available through DMHA. There is no cost to entities that implement a vending machine.
Douglas Huntsinger, executive director for drug prevention, treatment, and enforcement for the state of Indiana, unveiled the vending machine at a public event Tuesday. Huntsinger was joined by St. Joseph County Sheriff William Redman and Overdose Lifeline Executive Director Justin Phillips.
“We must continue to ensure widespread access to naloxone, given the lingering impact of COVID-19 and the increased supply of fentanyl in our 92 counties,” Huntsinger said. “Every life lost to a drug overdose is one too many. Naloxone offers the opportunity to get individuals with substance use disorder on the path to long-term recovery.”
Indiana reported a 32% increase in fatal overdoses during the 12-month period beginning in April 2020 and ending in April 2021, according to provisional data released in November by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This machine gives St. Joseph County residents and our recently released inmates zero-barrier access to a medication that could mean the difference between life and death,” Sheriff Redman said. “St. Joseph County Jail is proud to be the recipient of the state’s first naloxone vending machine, and we applaud Governor Holcomb’s commitment to address the drug epidemic.”
To learn about Overdose Lifeline’s naloxone distribution opportunities or to request a free naloxone kit, visit www.overdoselifeline.org.