DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham County Sheriff’s Office announced a partnership with Public Health officials, with the joint goal of saving people from overdosing.
On Tuesday, they unveiled the second Narcan vending machine in the county, through the “Narcan Near Me” program.
The other vending machine is at the public health center but is only open during normal business hours.
With a push of a button, people can now get access to free Narcan at the Durham County Detention Center, 24/7.
“Hopefully, it will never be used. But if it is used, it will save the life of someone who was suffering from an addiction,” said Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.
Officials have plans to open at least one more machine in one of the area libraries.
“Fentanyl is certainly laced in every street drug out there on the street right now. And we certainly know that we need to arm our citizens with these methods to save lives,” said Rodney Jenkins, the Director of the Durham County Department of Public Health.”
The most recent data from the North Carolina Health Department shows in 2021, there was a 22 percent spike in overdose deaths across the state.
“We are seeing an increase in addictions in all populations, young and old, all ethnicities,” explained Birkhead. “We have to remain vigilant in not only enforcing the drug laws but trying to help those who are battling those addictions.”
These vending machines can help.
To keep them fully stocked, it costs about $40,000 in state and county funding.
While they are hopeful the funds will enable them to always have Narcan available, officials said it’s just one piece of the puzzle to combat the opioid crisis.
“We have our own task force. Of course, we have Durham Joins Together to Save Lives, that has been in existence since about 2019,” said Jenkins. “It is a multi-pronged approach. We have citizens, we have community-based organizations, we have MAT [Medication-Assistant Treatment Program at the detention facility], which is something that the sheriff definitely touts strongly.”
Cumberland County and Orange County officials have Narcan vending machines at each of their detention facilities as well.