The Commonwealth’s 2021 Drug Overdose Report indicated that 2,250 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021, a 14.5% increase compared to the prior year.
A new addition at the Madison County Detention Center (MCDC) — a free vending machine full of naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan — is Madison County’s newest defense against the opioid epidemic.
The machine is part of an ongoing partnership with a nonprofit organization called Voices of Hope.
“We provide recovery coaching services, we connect residents at MCDC to different types of treatment that they would want, community resources… I know our coaches focus a lot on the people who will be there for a very short people of time, trying to get them involved in some sort of treatment before leaving,” explained Ashley Berkshire, Criminal Legal Systems Program Coordinator at Voices of Hope.
Community tax dollars were not used for the purchase of the machine, nor are they currently responsible for stocking the medication.
According to representatives from Voices of Hope, the machine’s naloxone stock is provided by grant money obtained by the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE) but stock is managed by Voices of Hope recovery coaches.
According to Chief Deputy Tom Jones, the grant has been extended to the end of 2024.
“That’s just one more avenue for us to try to get the community stabilized,” explained Jones, who added that anyone can come in to receive naloxone while the detention center is open.
Berkshire said that an estimated 67 units have been disbursed since the machine was placed in December 2022.
Jones encourages everyone in the community, regardless of personal belief, to be prepared by taking advantage of opioid overdose response training.
“Everybody who’s in crisis, who has an addiction, and may overdose is somebody’s mother and father, brother, uncle, and I’m sure it’s very important to them. As a law enforcement professional, I raised my hand and said that I would protect the people of the Commonwealth. I didn’t say, ‘only when that fit my agenda,’ so I believe that is something that we should do as a community to help protect people, even if we think it is morally incorrect,” he said.
This is a sentiment echoed by Berkshire, who said, “Everyone should have Narcan, because it could save somebody’s life. Having it be easily accessible for family members who care for loved ones who may be struggling with opioid addiction — that destigmatizes it.”
Jones advised there is a training video on loop and informational pamphlets by the vending machine for those who need more information about using naloxone.
Those who wish to learn more about naloxone and opioid overdose response training can visit https://www.getnaloxonenow.org/#home or https://voicesofhopelex.org/what-we-do/overdose-response.
Voices of Hope offers recovery coaching services, can connect individuals with recovery resources, and provide virtual and in-person recovery meetings hosted at their office, located as 644 N. Broadway, Lexington, Kentucky. Their office can be reached at 859.303.7671. More information is available on their website: http://www.voicesofhopelex.org.
Call the KY Help Call Center at 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who can connect Kentuckians to treatment.
Visit findhelpnowky.org to find information about available space in treatment programs and providers based on location, facility type and category of treatment needed.
Visit the Kentucky State Police (KSP) website to find one of KSP’s 16 posts to be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and participants will not be arrested or charged with any new drug violations.