UPDATE : The community event scheduled for March 25 has been canceled.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Access to opioid overdose reversal medication can vary based on availability and affordability, but knowing when and how to use these medications is just as critical during emergencies.
A free community event at The University of Alabama will provide both – free Narcan kits (while supplies last) and training on how to administer the drug – during a kick-off event for Project FREEDOM, a state-focused project to stem opioid overdose deaths, Wednesday, March 25, at the Bryant Conference Center on UA’s campus.
The UA School of Social Work’s Vital Team is sponsoring the event, which will include a presentation on opioid pharmacology and Narcan training from Dr. Mark E. Wilson, Jefferson County Department of Health, and a testimonial from Mackenzie Phillips, actress and biographer of “High on Arrival.”
The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. in the Sellers Auditorium of Bryant Conference Center. Registration is free and online.
“Outside of administering Narcan, people who attend will also learn about opioid safety, off-label usages, how to identify an overdose, and what to do when one occurs,” said Shanna McIntosh, UA Vital project director.
UA Vital’s partners include the Alabama School of Alcohol and other Drug Studies, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Jefferson County Department of Health, and Emergent Biosolutions, which produces Narcan and has provided the free kits for the giveaway.
Alabama’s rate of opioid overdose deaths more than doubled from 2012 to 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2017, Alabama recorded 422 opioid overdose deaths.
Project FREEDOM’s focus is on training first responders at varying local levels on how to respond to opioid overdoses, particularly the administration of Narcan. Project FREEDOM, a partnership with ADMH, also has a heavy focus on training and education for healthcare providers and community members.
Project FREEDOM’s event at UA will be followed by similar community-focused events in the grant’s 16 counties across the state.
“This is a true community event,” McIntosh said. “We want people from all walks of life, all socioeconomic statuses, and all ages.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.