GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A rise in overdoses is creating a higher demand for Narcan, making the potentially life-saving medication harder to find.
Doctor Melissa Floyd-Pickard, a licensed clinical social worker and lead researcher for GCStop, recently attended a fentanyl town hall at Northern Guilford High School. The message there wasn’t just about avoiding drugs.
“I think people are ordering things online, thinking they’re getting it from someone reputable. I know I’ve been hearing presentations lately about teenagers who are curious who are trying to explore, that are ordering things on Snapchat and Craigslist,” she explained. “What we want to do is to say ‘you know here are some safer things’ like have Narcan with you, we have fentanyl test strips, ways to identify counterfeit anything. That will save a life.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that between 2000 and 2020, 28,000 North Carolinians died of a drug overdose. That’s part of the reason GC Stop added a free Narcan vending machine inside the Guilford County Detention Center.
“The problem with the machines is that they wipe out fairly quickly and so it takes 150 packages to fill the machine,” Floyd-Pickard said.
The nasal kits are expensive, $40 to $60 each, so it costs thousands to stock it up, which led to it sitting empty for a couple of weeks.
Floyd-Pickard sees the high demand as a positive, despite the difficulty.
“I think that’s really progress because before nobody knew what it was,” she said. “Parents especially are wanting to have it, which I think is wonderful for people to have in their homes.”
She doesn’t believe making Narcan more accessible will make people less likely to stop using drugs.
“The truth is that it is an incredibly unpleasant experience to use Narcan. And so what happens is that it immediately puts your body into withdrawal from opioids,” she explained. “So you don’t emerge from that feeling good.”
It’s a good thing to have if you encounter someone who is overdosing.
GC Stop wants to put a similar vending machine in the High Point Detention Center but the supply issues are making it difficult. The group recently placed an order for Narcan with the state after learning about a leftover CDC grant.
GC Stop also accepts donations if a drug company would like to donate, or people can donate in someone’s memory.
If you need Narcan, you can find out how to contact GC Stop on their website. They have pop-up events every week.