In an effort to combat the opioid and overdose crisis sweeping the nation, the Board of Commissioners and the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force have installed naloxone kits in convenient locations across several county parks and buildings.
“People are using drugs in various public settings and rather than turn a blind eye to the problem, we are equipping these locations with lifesaving medication in the event an overdose occurs,” said Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. “Opioid overdoses are taking far too many lives here in Camden County and we are committed to curbing this epidemic in any way that we can.”
The initiative, price tagged at $6,000, is being paid for by funds from the opioid litigation settlement that was reached last year between the state and four of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies responsible for contributing to the opioid epidemic.
The boxes are now installed inside climate-controlled buildings at Newton Lake Park and Timber Creek Park, New Brooklyn Park and Wiggins Waterfront Park and Marina, the Parks Department’s building the county driving range on the Cooper River, and in the public restrooms and Boathouse at Cooper River Park. All park ambassadors have also been trained on how to administer the medication and will carry doses with them during their shifts.
Naloxone, better known as its brand name Narcan, is administered to someone when they are suspected to be overdosing on opioids. The medication is sprayed into the nostril and blocks the effects of opiates on the brain, restores breathing and ultimately reverses the overdose. So far this year, more than 100 people in the county have died from overdoses and there have been 561 distributions of Narcan.
“We are trying to come at this issue from all angles,” said Caryelle Lasher, director of the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services. “Having this medication on hand in every public place – schools, parks, libraries – means we have more opportunities to save someone’s life. And the number of Narcan distributions we have had in the first four months of the year show us there is a demand for this kind of program.”
This is the latest initiative to get naloxone in public spaces since the Commissioners announced the naloxone box in every school program in late 2022. Now all public schools and 250 total schools have these harm reduction boxes installed in their buildings. In addition, houses of worship and day cares also have requested these important tools to combat substance use disorder.
“Having NaloxBoxes in schools and communities are an important step towards addressing the opioid public health crisis and assuring the safety and well-being of students and the public,” said Kim Govak, program manager for Faces and Voices of Recovery. “This is a proactive measure that demonstrates Camden County’s dedication to safeguarding students and the community and creating a supportive environment for those battling the disease of addiction.
“Implementing NaloxBoxes sends a clear message that we are committed to confronting the opioid public health crisis head-on and preventing the death of loved ones.”