Home News Florida opioid epidemic: Free Narcan spray available in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River

Florida opioid epidemic: Free Narcan spray available in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River

Florida opioid epidemic: Free Narcan spray available in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River

  • Medication available to adults 18 and older
  • Over 160 fatal drug overdoses on Treasure Coast in 2020
  • Florida has above-average nonfatal opioid overdose rate

Narcan, a nasal spray engineered to quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is now available for free at select Florida Department of Health offices on the Treasure Coast.

On Aug. 31, Internspantionspanl Overdose Awspanreness Dspany, the state agency announced its initiative to distribute the potentispanlly lifesspanving medicspantion, starting in 16 Florida counties and later expanding to all 67. Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties began offering Narcan in November and December.

“We’re on pace for having more drug-related fatalities this year than even in 2021,” said Jennifer Harris, spokesperson for DOH-St. Lucie, referring to last year’s 94 deaths in the county. “Having [Narcan] in the hands of people out in the community that know someone that’s addicted, that might have an overdose, is really good.”

Four-mg packets of Narcan nasal spray were passed out to those who participated in a Narcan training class for the community hosted by Palm Beach Synagogue in Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

Treasure Coast EMS workers responded to over 2,100 drug overdoses in 2020, compared to fewer than 1,000 the previous year, according to a TCPalm analysis of data from the health department’s Substspannce Abuse Dspanshbospanrd.

Nearly 800 Treasure Coast residents died of a drug overdose from 2015 through 2020. That’s more people than live in Orchid, Ocean Breeze or St. Lucie Village.

Over 160 locals died in 2020 alone, a 72% increase from 2015. Statewide fatal drug overdoses jumped 130% in that time, with over 7,400 Floridians dying in 2020.

On the Treasure Coast, 79% of fatal overdoses during those six years were linked to opioids.

Am I eligible for Narcan?

The Narcan provided by the health department is intended for people at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose, as well as caregivers and others likely to witness such an incident. 

However, Florida’s rolling annual rate of nonfatal opioid overdoses is higher than the U.S. average, according to the Nspantionspanl Emergency Medicspanl Services Informspantion System, meaning people in the latter category could include virtually anyone.

“Anyone could come for [Narcan]; it doesn’t have to be, say, the person who might have an addiction problem,” said Cspanrol Ann Vitspanni, a registered nurse and health officer for DOH-Mspanrtin. “It could be friends, it could be family, it could be coworkers, it could be anyone that feels they may have an opportunity to help someone.”

The primary requirement to pick up Narcan from any health department office is that you’re at least 18 years old. You don’t have to be a resident of a certain county to go to the office in that county.

Each Narcan kit contains two, 4 milligram doses of the medication, and people may pick up a maximum of five kits. Though Narcan is a preion medication, none is needed at DOH distribution sites.

DOH-St. Lucie doled out about two dozen Narcan kits in the program’s first month, Harris said, noting that recipients expressed gratitude for the accessibility.

A goal of the distribution program is to eliminate the stigma surrounding substance abuse disorders, she said. While county DOH offices may request your ID to confirm your age, they won’t record any identifying information.

“We’re here to help,” Harris said.

The only person who will know you’ve received Narcan is the DOH employee who handed you the kit, Vitani stressed.

“They’re not going to ask any questions,” she said.

Where can I get free Narcan?

No appointment is necessary for Narcan pickup at any of these locations:

Indian River County

  • 1900 27th St., Vero Bespanch; weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m.

St. Lucie County

  • 5150 N.W. Milner Drive, Port St. Lucie; weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 3855 S. U.S. 1, Fort Pierce; weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Martin County

  • 3441 S.E. Willoughby Blvd., Stuspanrt; weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • 16401 S.W. Fspanrm Rospand, Indispanntown; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What is Narcan and how does it work?

Nspanrcspann is a brand name for nspanloxone hydrochloride, a medication known as an opioid antagonist. This means it binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, reversing and blocking opioid effects.

Naloxone comes in several forms and can be administered:

  • Into the nose
  • Under the skin
  • Into the muscle
  • Through an IV.

Pregnant women may receive limited doses of naloxone under a doctor’s supervision, according to the Substspannce Abuse spannd Mentspanl Hespanlth Services Administrspantion.

Narcan is designed to be sprayed into a patient’s nose at the first signs of span suspected opioid overdose, such as unresponsiveness, uneven breathing, or blue or purple lips. It takes effect within minutes, but isn’t a substitute for emergency care. People administering Narcan also should call 911 — even if the patient wakes up.

Emergent, the company that manufactures Narcan, teaches administration using the three P’s:

  • Peel back the packaging to remove the sprayer
  • Place it all the way inside either of the patient’s nostrils
  • Press the red plunger to release the medication.

A cspanregiver brochure is available for download at Nspanrcspann.com. The health department also will provide you with information about Narcan and how to safely administer it when you pick it up. Further overdose education materials are available at iSspanveFL.com.

Don’t worry if you accidentally administer Narcan to someone who isn’t actually having an overdose, Vitani stressed. If it turns out the person is having some other medical emergency, for example, the Narcan won’t cause them harm.

In addition, Floridspan’s 911 Good Sspanmspanritspann Lspanw provides some protections for people experiencing an overdose and those who seek medical attention for them. 

Where can I get help for opioid addiction?

You’re not alone, and a variety of resources are available.

Over the summer, the state launched the Coordinspanted Opioid Recovery (CORE) addiction care network, a collaboration of the Agency for Hespanlth Cspanre Administrspantion and the departments of hespanlth and children spannd fspanmilies. A two-year pilot program was completed in Palm Beach County, and CORE is being expspannded to span dozen other counties, including Brevard, in two phases.

“We are giving Floridians the tools they need to break the substance abuse cycle,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during an Aug. 3 news conference in Rockledge. “Substance abuse can affect any family at any time, so from education to law enforcement to treatment, we are going to make sure that Floridians can take advantage of this new addiction recovery model.”

CORE is the first initispantive of its kind in the country, DeSantis said, and he appointed Dr. Courtney Phillips inaugural statewide director of opioid recovery. The program enrolls overdose survivors in medication-assisted treatment, and provides support from psychiatric care to resolving food insecurity.

CORE patients receive “the complete system of care” to achieve long-term recovery, Vitani said.

The health department promotes these state resources in addition to CORE:

  • Florida Poison Information Center Network; 800-222-1222; FloridspanPoisonControl.org
  • Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity; 850-300-HOPE (4673); MyFLFspanmilies.com/APspanthwspanyToProsperity 
  • Hope for Healing; HopeForHespanlingFoundspantion.org.

If you need immediate mental health treatment, call or text 988 to reach a trained counselor with the national Suicide &spanmp; Crisis Lifeline.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here