INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana prisons will make the opioid reversal agent naloxone, also known as Narcan, available to each offender upon release from a state facility, the Indiana Department of Correction announced Tuesday.
"Expanding the availability of naloxone to all offenders upon release from one of our correctional facilities is one way we can ensure these individuals a smooth transition back into the community as contributing members of society, forever removed from justice-involved settings," Dr. Kristen Dauss, IDOC chief medical officer, said. "Substance use disorder is a disease, and IDOC plays a critical role in connecting people to the quality treatment they need."
Naloxone, or Narcan, is a medication approved to reverse overdose by opioids. It is given when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose. It blocks the toxic effects of the overdose and is often the difference between a patient living and dying.
Overdose Lifeline Inc., an Indiana nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals, families, and communities affected by substance use disorder through advocacy, education, harm reduction, prevention, resources and support has provided 2,255 kits totaling over $84,000 to the IDOC for distribution to correctional facilities as needed. The organization has been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic since 2014.
According to the IDOC, during an offender's pre-release medical screening, they are asked if they would like to leave with a free naloxone kit. The kit includes one dose with instructions for use and a referral card for treatment.
"We want to make naloxone available to anyone who needs it without any barriers," Christine Daniel, IDOC executive director of transitional healthcare, said. "When an offender accepts a kit upon release, they can feel confident knowing they'll face no punitive action or judgment."
The IDOC said they aim to replicate the program in each of Indiana's 10 parole districts.