New vending machine offers free boxes of Narcan in Battle Creek

·2 min read

The Battle Creek Homeless Shelter has a new vending machine, but it doesn't offer chips, candy or drinks.

The machine installed at the shelter, 209 E. Michigan Ave., at the end of June provides people 24/7 access to the anti-overdose medication Narcan with "no questions asked."

Free boxes of of the medication that reverses opioid overdoses are dispensed from the machine, marking the latest effort to make it more accessible to the public as the number of overdoses continues to climb locally and across the nation.

“We are very excited to have the Narcan vending machine implemented and to have this medication available to everyone at any time,” said Dawn Smith, executive director of the nonprofit Substance Abuse Council. “We have been trying to keep up with demand through personal and online trainings, but we felt that the distribution was suffering because the kits were limited to being handed out person-to-person.

"Now we feel we have a better solution to get Narcan in the hands of the people who can immediately assist someone in need and remove the barrier of accessibility," she added.

The vending machine was made possible through a collaborative grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Battle Creek Community Foundation in support of ongoing overdose prevention work by the Substance Abuse Council and Summit Pointe.

The vending machine is stocked with 100 boxes of Narcan, which will be replenished by the Substance Abuse Council as needed, Smith said. Each box contains two doses of the medication with instructions for how to administer it, as well as gloves, a rescue mask and resource information for treatment.

Smith said that from 2019 to 2020, drug-related deaths in Calhoun County rose by 21%, and increased again by 13% from 2020 to 2021. In 2021, 45 of the 59 overdoses in the county involved an opioid.

"There (are) other locations where you can get Narcan kits, but to have it where you can just go and get it with no questions asked, no forms to fill out, no information needed (is great)," Smith said. "You can just get it for whatever reason you need it, whether it’s for a loved one or a friend, whatever it may be … To remove all those barriers so you can access this medication, we’re really proud of that."

Smith said the nonprofit hopes to purchase additional vending machines and place them throughout the county in the future. In addition to the vending machine, residents can still pick up Narcan kits at a variety of locations, including the SHARE Center and Summit Pointe.

"There’s going to be a lot more work being done," Smith said of efforts to combat the opioid crisis locally. "It’s our goal to get resources and get people into treatment who need it, and family support, whatever they need."

Contact reporter Greyson Steele at gsteele@battlecreekenquirer.com or 269-501-5661. Follow him on Twitter: G_SteeleBC

This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Narcan vending machine installed at Battle Creek Homeless Shelter