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'Naloxboxes' distributed across St. Louis neighborhoods to fight opioid epidemic

Each box has two doses of Narcan, which reverses opioid overdose effects, a rescue breathing mask, and instructions.

ST. LOUIS — PreventEd and People's Health Center are installing Naloxboxes. Each box has two doses of Narcan, which reverses opioid overdose effects, a rescue breathing mask and instructions.

In the last five years, opioid overdose deaths in St. Louis's Black community have increased by 500%, and that's just one statistic these agencies are aiming to reverse.

“We could save two lives with this one box of Narcan," PreventEd Deputy Executive Director Jenny Ambruster said.

PreventEd and People’s Health Center are partnering to install 75 NaloxBoxes across St. Louis City and North St. Louis County.

“Anytime anyone might be experiencing or witnessing an overdose, they might be able to save someone’s life by going to the box, opening it up, and saving the person’s life with Narcan," Ambruster said.

Ambruster said fighting this epidemic is an ongoing battle.

“We’ve looked at overdose data by zip code throughout the city, and with that data, showing where there’s higher rates of overdose,” she said.

People’s Health Center President and CEO Dwayne Butler said the impact of these boxes can ripple across generations.

“It’s not only for those who have been addicted for a number of years, but it’s also for those who get elicit drugs every now and then, and that exposure is extreme,” he said.

According to data from both agencies, the St. Louis Metro accounted for 48% of all drug overdose deaths in Missouri in 2021. It also accounted for 79% of all drug overdose deaths of Black people in Missouri in 2021.

And, currently, St. Louis City has one of the highest overdose rates in the country.

“Start the conversation around the dinner table, not only keep opioid overdose and drug addiction in the corners of our community,” Butler said.

As both agencies navigate where to store these boxes, they want the community to play its role from the ground up.

“There is no judgment, no stigma associated with needing this in the same way we use other life-saving medication on a regular basis,” Ambruster said.

The life-saving part of these boxes is more than just what’s inside.

“It does affect all of us, families of those who are addicted as well as those who are addicted themselves," Butler said.

You can expect to see these boxes in various parts of St. Louis within the next few weeks.

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