KOKOMO — Howard County now has its first Naloxone vending machine to provide quicker access to a potentially life saving medication.
The machine was unveiled Thursday inside the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library Main Branch, located at 220 N. Union St.
"The vending machine at the library was a very important next step," Jen Cauthern, director of the Recovery Excellence Institute at Turning Point, said. "It's very important that even if you don't know someone that struggles with addiction, that if you carry it on you, you could be that person to save a life."
Jacquelyn Alexander has seen the effects of the opioid epidemic on her community.
"I see people overdosing every day so I figured if I grab some, I could save somebody's life," Alexander said.
The nonprofit Overdose Lifeline says it wants to create no barrier access to Narcan in communities.
"What a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to give access to everybody who would need this," Trisha Shively, head of adult and teen services at the library, said.
There are seven Naloxboxes, which are boxes containing Narcan, around Howard County. The boxes are placed outside for 24/7 access.
This past May, during the first month of the box's operation, 50 doses of Narcan were distributed. In November, that number rose to 236 across seven box locations.
"We do know that there is so much fentanyl that's out there and it's so easy to overdose on fentanyl," Cauthern said. "[It] is very important for access and low barrier to the populations that we're trying to serve, but it's also important because it holds so many more doses ... we're not going to run out as quick and more people are going to have access to those doses."
The vending machine can hold 300 doses and is the first Naloxone vending machine in the state to be located inside a public library.
Those with the library say having the machine inside the library is important because it's in a neutral location.
"People could step just inside our door, not even enter the library, but be coming into a place that's not associated with law enforcement, not associated with treatment. It allows them to maintain respect and dignity," Faith Brautigam, library director, said.
The machine is also centrally located in the community.
"Addiction does not discriminate ... I think most people know of or have had a loved one who has struggled with addiction," Shively said. "Somebody can come in and they can get some life saving medicine that may save a loved one's life ... anybody can come into the library, grab it and go and just have some reassurance."
To find out where you can get free Narcan near you, click here.