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Volunteer Group Helps Local Businesses Stock, Use Naloxone

Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opiates on the brain and restoring a person's breathing. (Adobe Stock)
Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opiates on the brain and restoring a person's breathing. (Adobe Stock)
March 12, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 50 restaurants, gas stations and other local businesses in Charleston now stock naloxone and have trained their employees how to use it to reverse an opioid overdose.

Sarah Stone is co-founder of the volunteer group behind the effort, known as Solutions Oriented Addiction Response, or SOAR. She says in addition to reaching out to businesses by phone and email, her group has partnered with a women's recovery center in Charleston.

"And we go out once a week, or once every two weeks, and we go to businesses, and we let these women who are in treatment -- a lot of them having been revived by naloxone - and we let them tell their stories to business owners, and churches and ministers," she relates.

Stone says some businesses have agreed to put yellow stickers in their window that say "We Carry Naloxone," so customers are aware.

Once a business agrees to carry the antidote, SOAR members come back to train staff on how to correctly use it. More information is on the group's Facebook page.

Stone says the effort is a response to what she believes is an increasingly hostile climate towards people struggling with substance disorders, propelled by public statements made by elected officials in the Charleston area.

"It, of course, added and fueled and made it okay for people to say things like, 'Let them die,' or, 'Three times getting saved by naloxone and you're out, you know -- no more getting saved by naloxone,'" she states. "And so, we definitely saw an opportunity there to start changing the conversation."

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, during the month of January, 571 people experiencing an overdose were rushed to a hospital emergency room.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - WV