PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local harm reduction nonprofit organization is thinking outside the box to improve accessibility to drug overdose resources.
JOLT Harm Reduction is making it easier to access naloxone, the opiate overdose-reversing drug. The nonprofit placed an overdose reversal box containing naloxone nasal spray kits next to the East Bluff Community Center in early September.
“My hope is that we continue to see overdose deaths decrease as a result of increased accessibility,” said JOLT Program Director Chris Schaffner.
The repurposed real estate box was strategically placed by EBCC based on overdose reversal data from drug users, first responders and the Peoria Police Department.
“We look at where are the majority of overdoses being responded to, and then we know that’s a hotspot for overdoses to target interventions,” said Schaffner.
Schaffner said some drug users are reluctant to come to them, so they are bringing the resources to their neighborhood.
“As we try to make overdose reversal medication more available to the community, we know not everybody is going to come into a building. Sometimes they fear stigma or judgement. So we want to make it accessible,” he said.
EBCC Executive Director Kari Jones said its one more resource in the center’s toolbox.
“Anybody who has a resource that they want to bring to East Bluff Community Center, that’s why East Bluff Community Center is here for…There is understanding that a lot of us know somebody who might need that someday, and to have it free and accessible right there in the community is going to be nothing but good for our community,” she said.
Each naloxone kit contains two nasal sprays. Jones said the nasal sprays do not pose a risk to the public.
“It’s nothing with needles, nothing that could harm anybody,” she said. “Even if somebody grabs it just walking by, there’s no harm that can be done from the nasal spray.”
Schaffner said they have refilled the overdose reversal box everyday, demonstrating the high need for the naloxone kits. He said they plan to place overdose reversal boxes in the North Valley, Southside and Pekin.
“Putting these boxes in strategic areas where known overdoses are occurring, that’s a great data-driven intervention,” he said.