JFRD: Opioid overdose calls in Jacksonville up 20% since COVID-19 pandemic began

1K overdose reversal kits have been distributed throughout city

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – To help combat the opioid crisis in Jacksonville, 1,000 overdose reversal kits have been distributed throughout the city as result of the grant-funded Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Project.

According to a news release from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, 911 calls for opioid overdoses in Jacksonville have increased nearly 20% since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The kits contain Narcan -- a nasal spray that can reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose.

“Research suggests that witnesses to an overdose event frequently do not call 911. This inaction can be deadly for the overdose victim," Laura Viafora Ray, the project director of the Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Project, stated in the news release.

One of the objectives of the project, the news release said, is to inform people about applicable laws like The Good Samaritan Act, which states that if you are acting in good faith in calling 911 and/or administering Narcan during an overdose you may not be charged, prosecuted or penalized.

According to the news release, the most recent substance abuse trends alert published by the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuses Association and the Florida Department of Children and Families reports that while opioid deaths in the U.S. and Florida have slowed in recent years, deaths by fentanyl -- a potent opioid -- continue to rise. It noted that Duval County had some of the highest rates of fentanyl and fentanyl analog deaths in the state, according to the 2018 Medical Examiners Commission Drug Report.

About the Authors: