SCOTTSBURG, Ind. — Scott County, Indiana is home to the state's newest resource to fight the opioid epidemic and growing concern around overdoses.
Scott Memorial Health received a Narcan vending machine last week. It is one of 19 statewide, providing the medication free of charge.
Another machine was placed in Clark County earlier this year.
Facility medical director Dr. John Croasdell said Narcan is a life-saving medication physicians use to bring people back from the brink of an opioid overdose.
By providing doses free to the public, he hopes to save lives and encourage people to get help.
“The more that it’s available, the more lives that can be saved and the more people that hopefully will take the next step and get into recovery," Croasdell said.
According to CDC data, Indiana saw a 32% increase in fatal overdoses from April 2020 to April 2021.
Croasdell said the rise in fentanyl in the community can be a contributing factor.
“This is a four milligram dose of Narcan and sometimes it’s taken several of those four-milligram doses to get somebody back from the brink," he said.
The vending machine program is not alone in fighting addiction and opioid overdoses in Scott County.
Last month, the Scott County Sheriff's Office and Jail were selected to participate in the "Integrated Reentry and Correctional Support" pilot program.
Known as IRACS, the program, new to Indiana, provides direct, in-jail support for people who are incarcerated and may be dealing with addiction.
Training began earlier this month, and the program is expected to start in July.
Lindsey Huff is one of several peer leaders working with the program through the local recovery organization Thrive, which also partnered with Scott Memorial for the vending machine initiative.
Huff will help incarcerated people navigate the justice system and eventually reenter society. Other leaders from Thrive will help with inmate assessments, recovery resources and care coordination.
Huff said she was incarcerated at the Scott County Jail in the past. She said a resource like IRACS would have been instrumental in her recovery.
“Every time I got out I wanted to go back to the things I was doing, not because I didn’t want the change, but because I didn’t know how to do the change and I was scared," she said. “That’s what peer coaching is about, is about being the person that holds on to their hand.”
Huff said helping people with recovery while in custody is crucial and sets them up for success when they are released.
“They get out of jail, they don’t have family support, the only friends they have are the people still using," she said. "And sometimes they end up using again, they get in more legal trouble and maybe they overdose.”
Huff is encouraged by efforts from health leaders and the Sheriff's Office.
“We’ve just begun. As long as there are people who use drugs, as long as there is fentanyl, we need this stuff," she said.
Huff said training for the program began earlier this month and personnel have a few weeks left. They hope to begin screening potential inmate clients in July.
According to a release from the Sheriff's Office, eventually, every inmate booked into the jail will be evaluated as a potential IRACS support client.