Inmates and those just-released from the St. Louis County Jail will have access to Naloxone kits - the tool used to help prevent fatalities associated with opioid overdoses.  A recent donation from the Steve Rummler HOPE Network will provide the kits to be used in-house and also provided to inmates upon release from the facility.

In order to qualify for the free Naloxone kit upon release, the inmate would need to be enrolled in the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program.

According to details shared by St. Louis County, the kits will help to curb the potential for overdoses upon release; "studies have shown people are at a higher risk of overdose upon release from incarceration".

Opioid use and opioid overdoses continue to rise in St. Louis County.  The number of overdoses in 2018 was 151; that number shot up to 398 overdoses in St. Louis County in 2021.  During the first three months of 2022, the Lake Superior Violent Offender Task Force reported 77 overdoses - including eleven fatalities.  "However, 44 of those lives were saved thanks to the use of Narcan".

At the same time, the level of opioid use among inmates at the St. Louis County Jail is high:

"...[A] survey May of 2021 showed that 61% of individuals incarcerated at the St. Louis County Jail inmates (sic) said they had used heroin/opioids; 57% acknowledged using it daily, and 37 % considered themselves addicted to heroin/opioids."

The donation will allow the jail facility to provide support to those individuals - often at the lowest points in their lives.  Jessica Pete, St. Louis County Jail Administrator explains:

"We now that Naloxone saves lives and we are happy to serve as a Naloxone Access Point for this area.  We see a lot of people at their lowest points, and this is one more way we can help families and friends support their loved one when they leave here.  We are grateful to the Steve Rummler HOPE Network for their support to distribute these kits to the people who need them."

With this donation, the St. Louis County Jail becomes the first in the region to offer the Naloxone kits at the point of release.  The effort is expected to "help improve accessibility....reduce stigma...and normalize Naloxone as a public health resource".  The medication works by quickly reversing an opioid overdose.

That's also part of the mission of the Steve Rummler HOPE Network.  The non-profit is based in St. Paul and "works to heighten awareness of the opioid crisis, address its impact on the physical and emotional burdens of addiction and chronic pain, and improve the associated care processes."

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