DETROIT – A Wayne State University program is working to help people overdosing on an opioid, one vending machine at a time.
Narcan vending machines are becoming more and more popular. It’s like your ordinary vending machine but instead of being filled with snacks, there are doses of life-saving medicine.
“You or I could walk up to this machine, hit J4, a box would drop, and we walk on our way,” said Program Manager of Wayne State Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ) in the School of Social Work, Matt Costello.
It sounds easy because it is that easy. Costello said that’s the whole point of the initiative.
“That is different than sometimes when you go to participating pharmacies. If I were going to a local pharmacy and I would have to ask for a naloxone kit many will provide them, and many will provide them for no cost. Not all, but many will,” said Costello. “But what will also happen is that it’ll show up on your medical record.”
That becomes a problem for people who are not getting the doses for themselves, but to one day save the life of a friend or family member.
“The center did research on its own and studied the programming that’s being done out of Los Angeles County Jail and Cook County Jail,” Costello said. “It’s (Narcan vending machines) not an idea that we came up with but it’s something that we observed being successfully implemented elsewhere.”
“We’re looking to get them in areas where we know that there’s a high incidence of overdose or possibility for overdose,” said Costello. “As an example, of our 15 machines delivered last year, eight went to county jails throughout the state of Michigan because data shows us that the prevalence rates for overdose post-jail release are 129 times higher than that of the general population.”
CBHJ’s first 2023 vending machine recipient is Live Rite Recovery Resource Center in Roseville. The goal is to deliver 20 vending machines across Michigan this year.
“We’re not thinking that just providing Narcan is the end of the story. It is the beginning of a journey, not the end of a journey,” said Costello.
Each dose from those vending machines come with a QR code that will link to resource near wherever that vending machine is located.
CBHJ installed machines at WSU’s undergraduate library and Oakland County Jail.