The Florida Department of Health in Citrus County (DOH) has announced that it will now make free Naloxone (Narcan) nasal spray kits available to the public in an effort to reduce the number of substance abuse deaths in the state.
In Citrus County, there were 377 drug overdoses with 81 deaths in 2021, according to Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast. So far this year, there have been 312 overdoses with 53 deaths.
These free kits contain two naloxone nasal sprays and are available to people who use drugs, people with a history of drug use, others at risk of overdose, friends, family, and others who may witness an overdose.
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“These kits save lives,” said Todd Hockert, a DOH human services program specialist in Citrus and Marion counties. “Addiction is a disease that affects our entire community. Anyone who feels like they might need this gear should get one.”
Naloxone is a life-saving medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It restores a person’s breathing and consciousness within minutes of use and can be administered by a bystander before emergency services arrive, but is not intended to replace professional medical care in the event of an overdose. People should still call 911 when an overdose is suspected or occurs.
Those requesting a DOH Citrus kit must meet the following eligibility:
- You must be 18 years or older.
- Individuals at risk for an opioid overdose.
- Caregivers who may witness an opioid overdose or others who may experience an opioid overdose.
Naloxone kits are free and do not require an appointment. People who use Naloxone receive educational materials, referrals, and connections to substance abuse intervention.
This effort is part of the state’s response to the overdose crisis. Governor Ron DeSantis recently launched the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) program, the first of its kind in the nation, to provide comprehensive and sustainable care for people affected by substance use disorder.
The DOH is working with the Florida Department of Children and Families through the Overdose Prevention Program, or iSaveFL, to facilitate the distribution of naloxone kits.
Naloxone kits can be obtained at DOH-Citrus offices during normal business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the following locations: DOH-Citrus Main Office, 3700 W. Sovereign Path, Lecanto and DOH- Citrus Office of Environmental Health, 3600 W. Sovereign Path, Lecanto.
For those struggling with substance use disorder, resources and assistance are available to you.
The iSaveFL website provides information on finding naloxone in the community and resources on treatment, overdose education and prevention. Visit isavefl.com/find-naloxone.shtml Learn more.
Poison control centers are staffed by health professionals who are specifically trained to treat drug overdoses or evaluate patients exposed to drugs of abuse. Medical toxicologists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for medical consultation. For questions about poisoning or emergencies, call 800-222-1222 or visit the website at floridapoisoncontrol.org.
The Hope for Healing website is a tool for accessing help for mental health and substance abuse with tons of resources available. Visit the website at foundationsperanzaparalacuracion.org.
Lastly, Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity uses “Care Navigators” to guide people on an individualized path to prosperity. These “care navigators” help and support people as they discover immediate and long-term goals for themselves, while providing them with opportunities. Learn more at myffamilies.com/AP PathwaytoProsperity.
For information on DOH Citrus, go to FloridaHealth.gov or follow @HealthyFla on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Contact Chronicle reporter Georgia Sullivan at 352-564-2929.