Nalox-Zone Boxes installed in the Northwoods to help prevent opioid overdose deaths
Naloxone, or NARCAN by its brand name, is a drug known to save someone at risk of dying from an opioid overdose.
In 2021, more than 1,400 Wisconsinites died because of opioids.
The number of deaths from opioid overdoses has been rising since 2014 when there were 628 opioid-related deaths recorded in Wisconsin according to the Department of Health Services.
Danielle Luther says even though the latest data from DHS is two years old, other markers indicate that there are still a lot of deaths and hospital visits because of misuse of opioids.
“We do know that opioid emergency room hospitalizations continue, we know that opioid death rates continue. We also hear that from our partners that there are overdoses and some of them are not reported,” said Luther. Luther is the Senior Project Manager for the Family Health Center of Marshfield, a member of the HOPE Consortium.
The HOPE Consortium is a partnership of organizations for substance use disorder treatment and recovery support in central and northern Wisconsin.
It recently partnered with Wisconsin Voices for Recovery to install Nalox-Zone boxes across the region.
“It was important for us to talk with our partners and make it available as a free option for community members, for their friends and family. That way most of you them, you’ll see on the flier, are accessible almost 24/7,” said Luther.
In the Northwoods, the naloxone is available at the Rhinelander Police Department, The Family Health Center Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center in Minocqua, and the Vilas County Justice Center in Eagle River.
Luther says there were some concerns when the first box was installed at the Wood County Jail that it would prevent people from going there out of fear of getting in trouble with law enforcement.
“We heard that people would be nervous. Then we saw that that box was one of the highest used boxes in Wisconsin. People were actually stopping. There were no questions asked. People could be stopping in for themselves or a family member or a friend,” she said.
Luther says the boxes are big enough to hold pamphlets with information on other resources for those struggling with substance abuse.
Luther says they’ll update the list as more locations become available.