RVBH working to break stigma of Narcan, increase access to lifesaving medication


This article was originally published by the Owensboro Times on Oct. 9, 2023. To view the original post, click here.

RiverValley Behavioral Health has been working to make Narcan distribution and information more readily accessible, including efforts such as giveaways, seminars, and even the addition of a vending machine where people can get a free dose of the medication.

Narcan is a nasal spray medication that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and has been used safely and effectively by emergency medical services for decades.

RVBH Vice President of Nursing & Prescriber Services Nicki Feher said equates Narcan’s effect to that of an EpiPen.

“If somebody eats a peanut and they use an EpiPen, it’s an immediate relief and then you go to the hospital after you use that EpiPen. Narcan is the same way. If they have an overdose, you use the Narcan immediately. It should work that quickly, and then you go to the hospital,” Feher said.

Feher said that through a grant from the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, RVBH has higher dosages of Narcan that combat fentanyl. RVBH also provides those to the community for free.

Feher, along with RVBH Regional Prevention Center Collaboration Specialist Kayley Edelen, also leads training sessions on Narcan in and around Daviess County.

They said the seminar is for any profession and age, and they try to make the education family-friendly to ensure anyone can administer Narcan to someone experiencing an overdose. RVBH has printed instructions on the dosage boxes that show how to administer Narcan.

“I think that we’ve opened a lot of eyes with our education. (People might not think about how) their teenager may be a good kid and they’re not doing anything wrong, but their friends are coming into your home and might be taking something,” Feher said.

Feher said RVBH has partnered with schools to carry Narcan in case a student overdoses during school hours or needs it at home. She said nurses in the Daviess County and Hancock County public school districts have it in their inventory.

But their push for Narcan awareness doesn’t stop in the schools, as Edelen said that she aims for Narcan to be readily available in the home and workplace.

Narcan in the homes is a great thing to push in the community because it just takes a second for a youth to maybe accidentally ingest something, and it’s available for everyone to help save a life. Same in schools as well, just any community partner,” Edelen said.

Additionally, given that RVBH is a medication-assisted treatment organization, Feher said each one of their clients receives a device.

Even though they’re on their journey for sobriety, walking their steps, or whatever their path is, if they are around somebody that might need it, or if they were to have a moment of weakness and need it themselves, we want to make sure that it’s available for them,” Feher said.

RVBH is also working to remove the stigma behind drug addiction and create active bystanders in situations like overdoses.

“I know that there’s a lot of negative feedback with Narcan and substance use. I’m hoping the more we do and the more that we get the education out there, that it’s going to take that stigma out,” Feher said.

Feher added that RVBH keeps Narcan stocked in what they call the Narcan Vending Machine at their facility at 1100 Walnut Street, where someone in need of a dose can grab one without asking for assistance. Devices are free, Feher said.

Published on October 17, 2023