A tool to fight the opioid crisis is coming to Vermont, and it’s designed to look and work like one that dispenses snacks and drinks.
A vending machine filled with the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is scheduled to arrive at the Johnson Health Center sometime in June or early July. The machine, which will dispense the drug for free, will be outside the center’s front doors and be available 24 hours a day.
Workers at the health center say it’s important to put the machine in rural Vermont because of the high percentage of overdoses that have happened in the surrounding communities. They hope the machine will not only make it easier for people to get Narcan, but also break down the stigma around it.
“In the vending machine, there’ll be not only Naloxone, but the instructions of how to react and then also how to be able to get help,” said Caroline Butler, a founding member of the Johnson Health Center, where she also works as a nurse practitioner. “My hope is that the more it’s out there, the more normalized it is, the easier it is to deal with when the situation arises.”
Dr. Gail Rose, an Assistant Psychiatry Professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, said Narcan from the machine can be tucked away in a backpack or purse. ” You never know when you might be in a position to save someone’s life,” she said.
The University of Vermont’s Center on Rural Addiction, which helped Johnson Health Center get the machine, is considering four other locations across Northern New England for the machines.