Growing number of UW System campuses installing opioid overdose kits

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As opioid deaths surge in Wisconsin, a rising variety of universities are making the overdose reversal drug naloxone publicly out there in dormitories and different campus buildings. 

This fall, the College of Wisconsin-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Parkside put in opioid overdose rescue kits referred to as “Nalox-ZONE” bins aimed toward stopping opioid overdose deaths. They be a part of UW-Oshkosh, which put in the bins in late 2021. 

The Nalox-ZONE bins look comparable and are sometimes positioned close to Automated Exterior Defibrillator, or AED, bins in residence halls and recreation facilities. They embody a nasal spray bottle of naloxone, also called Narcan, together with an emergency respiration gadget used whereas administering CPR. 

“Now we have not had any overdose deaths on campus,” UW-La Crosse Police Chief Allen Hill advised Wisconsin Public Radio. “However, right here within the Coulee Area, we’re seeing a rise in opioid overdoses and deaths. So it was undoubtedly the suitable factor to do to remain proactive and go forward and get them put in place.”

Final month, the Wisconsin Division of Well being Providers reported there have been 1,427 opioid associated deaths in 2021. That represents a 70 p.c enhance over the variety of opioid deaths in 2018. In 2021, two UW-Milwaukee college students died from opioid overdoses.

UW-Parkside is the latest UW System campus to put in the Nalox-Zone bins on campus. Director of Pupil Well being, Counseling and Incapacity companies, Dr. Renee Sartin Kirby, mentioned she thinks public well being and security officers are being extra proactive with the opioid and fentanyl epidemics than they had been with the crack epidemic of the Eighties.  

“We type of dehumanized or attacked the sufferer as a substitute of how we might educate and use prevention,” Kirby mentioned. “And so I feel we have discovered quite a bit since then.”

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The bins are offered freed from cost by the nonprofit Wisconsin Voices for Restoration. If the field is opened, the group receives a notification and works with the host website to refill it at no cost. 

Wisconsin Voices for Restoration Director Cindy Burzinski mentioned further universities are in discussions with the group to put in Nalox-ZONE bins. In all, she mentioned there are 200 positioned in 37 counties. Burzinski mentioned that features public buildings, personal companies, therapy facilities, grocery shops, gasoline stations, probation and parole workplaces and one bar. 

She mentioned the rising curiosity is because of the rising variety of opioid overdoses, but in addition the highly effective drug fentanyl being blended with different unlawful substances like methamphetamine and marijuana.

“Our mission is to get as many of those naloxone bins throughout Wisconsin communities as potential to assist security and hurt discount within the communities,” Burzinski mentioned. “That is one factor that we will management. We won’t management fentanyl getting blended in with substances.”

Preliminary information from Voices for Restoration present the bins have been utilized in few emergencies to date. However in additional than half the instances that the bins have been opened, the Narcan has been eliminated. Burzinski mentioned that may be a signal the undertaking is working as supposed. 

“So for instance any person has a pal or member of the family that makes use of substances, they usually’re anxious about them, they usually need to have Narcan available simply in case,” Burzinski mentioned. “And so, we encourage the usage of the naloxone bins for that as effectively, to actually simply get the Narcan on the market to distribute it so we will have a safer neighborhood usually.” 

Funding for the Nalax-Zone bins comes from Wisconsin Division of Well being Providers grants and personal donations.

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