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On Florida's inaugural Revive Awareness Day, free Narcan and overdose awareness

Julia Saad
Hillsborough health officials offered up to five free boxes of Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, as part of Revive Awareness Day, on June 6, 2024.

In Hillsborough, health officials offered the overdose reversal drug to people who stopped by their Tampa office. Other counties recognized the day with education on recognizing overdoses and saving lives.

As part of a statewide effort, the Florida Department of Health held events to educate the community on how to prevent an overdose on Thursday, the state's first Revive Awareness Day.

In Hillsborough County, health department officials offered up to five free boxes to people who stopped by tables set up outside their downtown Tampa office entrance.

Narcan is a nasal spray version of naloxone, an overdose reversal drug.

Melina Santos, senior health educator for the county’s Office of Behavioral Health, developed informational sessions about the use of naloxone. She said there is still a taboo around carrying it – even though it can save lives.

“People often believe that [carrying] Narcan is only important when you have substance use disorders or an opioid use disorder, but really, this is for everybody,” Santos said.

The danger comes from drugs like fentanyl or heroin, as well as fentanyl-laced prescription drugs – both genuine and counterfeit – which can cause accidental overdoses.

Revive Awareness Day was established after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (SB 66), which was passed during this year's legislative session. The law aims to bring awareness to opioid misuse and naloxone.

Other counties organized similar events and made announcements to educate people on ways to recognize overdoses, use Narcan and detail resources and programs available to support people struggling with drug misuse.

Santos said Hillsborough has been one of the counties most affected by increased opioid use.

Hillsborough recorded 525 opioid-related fatal overdoses in 2022, according to data from the Florida Department of Health. In 2023, over 1,000 doses of Narcan were administered in Hillsborough before paramedics arrived on scene.

"Everybody has in some way been affected by this,” Santos said. “Whether just by hearing about it or knowing someone that maybe uses opioids and they have had an overdose, so we are just really promoting the importance of having this [Narcan] on stock."

Julia Saad

Santos said it is important to be able to identify symptoms of an overdose. Clammy and sweaty skin, dilated pupils, shallow breathing or gurgling noises are among the main indicators.

The spray should be administered as soon as possible. Each container has two doses, the second can be administered, if needed, two to three minutes after the first one.

When administering, make sure the person overdosing is lying down with chin tilted up to open airways and avoid choking. In all instances, if an overdose is identified, call 911 immediately.

Santos said the use of Narcan is safe, as the dosage will not affect the individual if they are not actually overdosing.

In stores, Narcan can sell for up to $50 a box. The Florida Department of Health offers free Narcan kits at locations around the state. Recipients also get educational material and referrals for substance abuse programs.

Visit the I Save FL website for more information on where to find Narcan.

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Julia Saad