Need naloxone? Local recovery coalition will discreetly mail doses to combat opioid overdoses

Joseph Kohut, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
·2 min read

Feb. 22—Concerned about a jump in drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lackawanna Recovery Coalition's leadership said they are mailing an opioid overdose-reversal medication to county residents who request it.

"Having this medication on hand when you need it can literally mean the difference between life and death," Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell, a co-chairman of the recovery coalition, said in a statement announcing the program.

Those who need doses of naloxone, often known by its brand name Narcan, can request a free kit from the coalition's website at They'll be mailed packages that contain two doses of naloxone nasal spray and information on how someone suffering from substance use disorder can get into treatment — including the names and phone numbers of two certified recovery specialists, who are points of contact for those seeking help.

All information is kept secret and kits are mailed in plain packaging. Included on the order page is a YouTube video in which Bruce Beauvais, a paramedic and operations manager at Pennsylvania Ambulance, explains how to administer the antidote.

"Narcan saves lives," Barbara Durkin, coalition co-chair and director of the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said in an email. "The new mail program will make Narcan even more available to people in the community and thus continue to save lives."

The district attorney's office secured a $50,000 grant from Vital Strategies, a global health organization, in August to purchase naloxone kits and is in the process of securing more funding. As of Monday, they had mailed out 75 kits and are filling 39 more requests that came in over the weekend, Powell said.

There were 88 opioid overdose deaths in Lackawanna County in 2020, Powell said. One additional death is pending toxicology testing. Last year's death toll was higher than the number of deaths in 2019 — 65. Powell said the anxiety and isolation that came with the pandemic made it more difficult to maintain recovery.

"The triggers are much more prevalent," Powell said.

Medical professionals have used naloxone for more than 40 years, according to the state Department of Health. It works by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing to an overdose patient within minutes.

Former Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed a standing order in 2016, allowing any Pennsylvania resident to buy the antidote from a pharmacy. Interim acting state Physician General Dr. Wendy Braum continued the order Jan. 23.

"By mailing out free naloxone, we are putting this lifesaving medication into the hands of family and friends who are often the first ones on the scene, even before first responders," Powell said. "Ultimately, our goal is to save lives."

Contact the writer:, 570-348-9100, x5187; @jkohutTT on Twitter.