Free annual naloxone distribution expands statewide for September event


HUNTINGTON — Free naloxone will be distributed across West Virginia in September during Save a Life Day, an annual event created to encourage community members and substance users to always carry the overdose-reversing drug. 

Free annual naloxone distribution expands statewide for September event | News |… 2/3 Save a Life Day will return in its third year Thursday, Sept. 8, with all 55 West Virginia counties hosting over 150 sites across the state for the first time. The sites will give anyone naloxone for free with no questions asked. 

Naloxone, commonly known by its brand name Narcan, is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose by attacking opioid receptors and reversing and blocking the effects of an opioid. 

The event was created in 2020 with the goal of distributing naloxone kits, giving in-person training and giving information about local resources to the community in an attempt to reduce overdose deaths in the state, said Dr. Susan Bissett, president of the The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute. “We want people who are struggling with the disease of addiction, or taking illicit drugs recreationally, to not do drugs and access recovery resources, but we also need them to live long enough to do so. Fentanyl testing strips are just one more tool in our kit for preventing overdose deaths,” Bissett said. This year, The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute is also providing approximately 10,000 fentanyl test strips across the state for free distribution at Save a Life Day events. 

During a February 2021 presentation to the West Virginia House of Delegates’ Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Committee, Dr. Matthew Christiansen, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy for the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said the number of naloxone kits distributed in 2021 was about 67,000, nearly four times that distributed in 2020. Christiansen said of those, 5,000 kits were distributed on Save a Life Day 2021, with initial data for Kanawha County showing overdose deaths to have leveled off and perhaps declined slightly following the September event.

Pick-up locations on Sept. 8 include churches, libraries grocery stores, restaurants and others. More than a dozen sites have already been listed in Cabell County, including at Marshall University’s Student Memorial Center, several Cabell EMS stations, Fellowship Baptist Church at 3661 U.S. 60 in Barboursville and Milton Baptist Church at 1123 Church St. in Milton. Other locations of distribution points can be found at​

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Courtney Hessler,