How to get Narcan, the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, for free 24/7

It can save your life, and it’s free.

A vending machine stocked with free Narcan — a life-saving opioid reversal nasal spray — will now sit inside the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, available for use 24/7.

The installment, tucked next to a Coca-Cola vending machine in the Detention Center’s lobby, comes after a 20% increase in fentanyl overdoses reported by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Fentanyl — an opioid often laced in other drugs, like pain pills, or distributed on its own — is 100 times more potent than morphine, and even a small amount of it can be deadly.

As it becomes easily available — routinely popping up in the detention center, on streets and even in schools — Sheriff Garry McFadden hopes to make access to Narcan as easy as possible.

“We want to encourage all people, whether they personally use substances or not, to carry the life-saving drug,” wrote MCSO Public Information Officer Bradley Smith.

Naloxone, the fast-acting medicine in Narcan that reverses an opioid overdose, is considered safe to use even if drug use is suspected but later found to not be the case. Earlier this year, federal regulators took action to make 4 mg Narcan nasal spray available over-the-counter without a prescription for about $50.

In collaboration with Carolinas CARE Partnership Rx ACE (CCP), McFadden said offering the drug will be “a pivotal step in our efforts to combat the ongoing fentanyl crisis.”

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Fentanyl overdose reversal spray ‘standing by’ for every public school in Charlotte

With the White House charting action in schools nationwide to curb teen drug use and deaths, Charlotte-Mecklenburg leaders plan to stock opioid overdose-reversal medicine in hallways.

While there have been no documented fatal overdoses in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, some data suggests drug use among students is on the rise. Fentanyl — a synthetic opioid — is pervasive in street-bought drugs, experts say.

Naloxone, an overdose-reversal medicine (commonly called Narcan), will be available in every school, pending CMS board approval, Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg health director, told The Charlotte Observer this week.

With the White House charting action in schools nationwide to curb teen drug use and deaths, Charlotte-Mecklenburg leaders plan to stock fentanyl overdose-reversal medicine in hallways.

We are standing by ready to start,” he said.

The Observer first reported on the district’s plan to allow naloxone in schools in September.

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Biden White House Tells Schools to Stock Up on Narcan As Deadly Drugs Are Brought Over the Border

Border Patrol agents seized enough fentanyl in 2023 alone to kill every American citizen as the country grapples with the consequences of President Joe Biden’s open border policies. 

Now, the White House is urging schools to stock up on Narcan amid a surging number of fentanyl deaths among American children.

In a letter addressed to U.S. school officials, President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged administrators to begin keeping naloxone on hand and to train teachers on how to administer the drug if a student starts overdosing on or is poisoned by fentanyl.

In the midst of this fentanyl overdose epidemic, it is important to focus on measures to prevent youth drug use and ensure that every school has naloxone and has prepared its students and faculty to use it. Studies show that naloxone access can reduce overdose death rates, that its availability does not lead to increases in youth drug use, and that it causes no harm if used on a person who is not overdosing on opioids. It is important to note that individuals should not be afraid to administer naloxone, as most states have Good Samaritan Laws protecting bystanders who aid at the scene of an overdose. Our schools are on the frontlines of this epidemic, but our teachers and students can be equipped with tools to save lives. 

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Guilford County Sheriff’s Office discuss fentanyl at town hall

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers held a town hall with several senior staffers Monday night to address concerns about the detention center, crime in the county and staffing concerns in the department.  

Fentanyl took center stage, though.

“That was the day our whole world came crashing down … Since then, it’s been my mission to bring attention and awareness to fentanyl,” said Debbie Peeden, a grandmother who lost her granddaughter to fentanyl poisoning two years ago.  

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A UNC student OD’d on Duke campus, and it took a student journalist to bring the story to light

On March 9, 2023, a freshman from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill overdosed on fentanyl outside a Duke University dorm.

She died in a hospital two days later, surrounded by family and friends, according to her obituary.

Very few people knew about her death, until a Duke student journalist started investigating, learning that 19-year-old Grace Burton wasn’t the only UNC student or alum to recently die from fentanyl poisoning.

She wasn’t even the only one to lose her life to an overdose that week. Now federal agents say the same person supplied the drugs to both students.

Duke student and journalist Charlotte Kramon heard about Burton’s on-campus death and figured more information would come out publicly.

But, she says, “There was no announcement; there were very few people outside of some of those who were close to the situation that knew.”

Kramon started looking into the death and charges related to it, publishing her findings along with co-author Michael Hewlett in the online magazine The Assembly.

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The latest college campus freebies? Naloxone and fentanyl test strips

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, three students stand behind a card table covered in naloxone injection kits. When a curious student leans in and asks what the kits are for, Caroline Clodfelter, one of the co-founders of the student group running the table, explains: “It will reverse an opioid overdose. … So let’s say you’re going out to a frat — stick it in your pocket. It’s easy to just have on you.”

Nearly 600 miles away, at the State University of New York’s Delhi campus, Rebecca Harrington, who works in student affairs, has also been tabling to prevent fentanyl overdoses. Her table, though, is full of colorful cups, a water jug and candies in zip-close bags — tools for her demonstration on how to use a fentanyl test strip. These test strips allow students to see whether a pill has been laced with the deadly synthetic opioid.

Test strips and naloxone are becoming more and more common on college campuses, and at least one health department has recommended they be added to school packing lists. For students who didn’t bring their own, many campuses are handing them out at welcome fairs, orientation events or campus health centers.

As more teens overdose on fentanyl, schools face a drug crisis unlike any other
Fentanyl was involved in the vast majority of teen overdose deaths in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly a quarter of those deaths involved counterfeit pills that weren’t prescribed by a doctor. And the problem has been following teens onto college campuses.

Students may think they’re taking pills like oxycodone, Xanax or Vicodin. Instead, those pills often have fentanyl in them, resulting in overdoses on campuses across the U.S., from Ohio to Colorado to Oregon. At UNC-Chapel Hill, three students died from fentanyl poisoning in just the last two years.

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A UNC Student’s Overdose Death at Duke

A Carolina freshman was found unconscious in a Duke University dorm room in March and died two days later of a drug overdose. Neither university said anything publicly about her death until contacted by The Assembly.

by Charlotte Kramon and Michael Hewlett

Paramedics rushed into a residence hall on Duke University’s Kilgo quad at about 6:30 a.m. on March 9 and climbed to the third floor of the old stone building around the corner from Duke Chapel. In room 309, they found a pale, chilled body in a puffy jacket, on her back in a twin bed and glistening in a pool of sweat. 

The young woman was barely breathing, according to the 911 call log and an investigative report. A trash can sat next to the bed.

After almost an hour of treatment for cardiac arrest, an ambulance took Elizabeth Grace Burton, a business student from Charlotte and member of Zeta Tau Alpha at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to the Duke University Hospital. Two days later, she was pronounced dead. Burton was 19.

A state autopsy says she died of cardiac arrest from a toxic mix of cocaine and alcohol. A private autopsy also found fentanyl and GHB, a depressant that can give feelings of euphoria.

Until contacted by The Assembly, Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill said nothing publicly about the death. Duke said it deferred to UNC because Burton was a student there, and UNC said it considers the family’s wishes when deciding to release a statement. 

No one has been charged with Burton’s death. But Burton’s companion that night, former Duke student Patrick Rowland, has pleaded guilty to using a cell phone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine and marijuana. Rowland, 22, is scheduled to appear in federal court on October 18 for a status hearing and will be sentenced in December.

Rowland could face a civil suit from Burton’s family. He is no longer at Duke. Duke officials won’t say whether he was expelled or left voluntarily. 

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After several UNC-Chapel Hill students died from fentanyl, these students are handing out the antidote

College senior Riley Sullivan often carries a vial of the drug naloxone in his backpack, in a pocket next to his pens and pencils.

He has done this for years, long before he was a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Once, while volunteering at a homeless encampment in his home state of Michigan, he used it to save a man’s life.

“He was using drugs with somebody else, and they did not have naloxone,” Sullivan says. “This guy came out screaming, asking if anyone had some. And I did.”

Naloxone is the antidote to an opioid overdose. Sullivan took a syringe of injectable naloxone from the backpack he was carrying, walked into the tent and loaded it with a vial of medicine.

“I injected it through his pants, into the front of his thigh,” Sullivan recalled. Then he performed rescue breathing on the man. “And luckily he made it.”

Today, Sullivan has a $15,000 supply of injectable naloxone in his closet at his off-campus apartment in Chapel Hill. He and two of his classmates have become unexpected distributors of the drug in this college town where several students have recently died from opioids.

The deaths are largely unknown to the campus community, but they were discussed at a recent public meeting of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. The university’s director of student wellness Dean Blackburn led the presentation.

“I want to share a shocking statistic with you, that I hope you find shocking. It is for me. In the last 20 months, we have lost three active students and one young alum to fentanyl poisoning,” Blackburn said. “And I use that term specifically; not ‘overdose’ because our students and alum were not using fentanyl.”

“They were using other substances that were laced with fentanyl, and they did not know that. And the result of that poisoning was their death and our loss,” he added.

Read the full article and listen to the interview on the WUNC website.