LINCOLN — As deaths from opioid overdoses continue to increase, agencies are looking for new ways to pass information about the epidemic to the public.
Another chance for those wanting to learn more — and get a free naloxone opioid overdose reversal kit — will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the 2018 Wellness Expo at the Lincoln Park District in Lincoln.
“What we are doing now has to change and we have to find ways to keep people alive,” said Christ Schaffner, a recovery specialist at the Human Service Center Recovery Center in Peoria. “We have to look for ways to expand treatment. We have to look for innovative ways to talk to those who are at risk.”
One of those ways that has been successful in the past, he said, is distributing the free naloxone kits. Schaffner said there are about 50 kits available to be given away Saturday. The distribution event is funded through a Drug Overdose Prevention Program grant.
“This is a result of the task force we started in 2016,” said Angela Stoltzenburg of Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln and a member of a Logan County task force working on an opioid response action plan. “We have been working on a variety of different action items since then and this will be the second time we have had a distribution like this. The first one was very well attended and we are happy that this is going on again.”
The expo is free will feature more than 60 vendors, giveaways, food, free inflatables for all ages, free health screenings, recycling and more, Stoltzenburg said.
In addition to handing out the kits, Schaffner will share information on opioids, signs of withdrawal, the Good Samaritan Law, medically assisted treatment and the usage and storage of naloxone.
“We will try to answer any questions they may have,” he said. “It’s all about education and informing the public, no matter who they are, about addiction.”
The kits will be handed out, free of charge, with no questions asked, he said.
“It’s not a bait and switch to turn them in and we are not reporting to anyone who picks up one and we won’t be asking them for their reasons,” he said. “But the important thing is to save lives and by having this on hand, it could save a life somewhere, sometime.”
Users or friends of users are not the only people who have picked up the kits in past giveaways, Schaffner said.
“We have had cab drivers, bus drivers or restaurant owners pick them up, even,” he said. “Sometimes, they are needed in restaurants or bars with public bathrooms. You just never know.”
There will also be instructions on how to use the kits and other information available.