Upstate addiction nonprofit quadruples distribution of overdose drug Naloxone during pandemic | Greenville Health


Sitting on his sofa at dwelling or throughout lulls at work, Marc Burrows pulls out a cardboard field stuffed with small, glass vials. One after the other, he takes the bottles out and slips them into brown plastic baggage, two at a time, with a pair a syringes.

On every of the orange-capped containers, there is a phrase written in daring, capitalized letters: Naloxone. 

The drug reverses the consequences of opioid overdoses and has grow to be a life-saving device within the ongoing opiate epidemic. Burrow’s group, Problem Inc., is the most important neighborhood distributor of Naloxone within the state, and the complete group, from Burrows, to the receptionist, to space volunteers, chip in to assist bundle the doses to make them prepared for the folks the nonprofit serves.

It is a mundane process that has taken on a brand new urgency in latest months. Because the coronavirus pandemic rages on — heightening isolation, destroying livelihoods and worsening nervousness and different psychological well being struggles — the demand for naloxone, generally referred to by the model title NARCAN, has elevated considerably.


Problem Inc., South Carolina’s largest neighborhood distributor of naloxone, is struggling to maintain the overdose reversal medication on the shelf as demand surges in the course of the pandemic. Supplied/Marc Burrows

In truth, for Problem Inc., it is quadrupled.

The place the nonprofit beforehand gave out about 250 doses each month, it now averages about 1,000 a month.

“I’ve by no means seen something like this,” Burrows mentioned.

In response to the state Division of Well being and Environmental Management, possible opioid overdoses have been up 50 p.c as of Might in comparison with the identical interval final yr, a rise the company attributed to the pandemic. And knowledge from the the Greenville County Coroner’s Workplace reveals overdose deaths within the county are up in comparison with the three earlier years, with 118 recorded between Jan. 1 and Aug. 27.

From starting of 2020 to October, Problem Inc. recorded 121 situations of somebody utilizing naloxone the nonprofit gave them to reverse an overdose, greater than double the quantity from all of final yr.

“And that is means underreported,” Burrows mentioned.

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Its additionally turning into extra frequent for a similar folks to make use of the overdose drug a number of occasions in a brief time period as fentanyl, a extremely potent opioid, is blended with different medication like heroin, meth and cocaine extra incessantly, Burrows mentioned.

Problem Inc. is a hurt discount nonprofit, which means it gives assets equivalent to naloxone and clear needles to folks scuffling with habit to mitigate the dangers of their drug use. It is an strategy backed up by a large physique of analysis that reveals it saves lives.

Burrows, who used heroin for 10 years and has been sober for simply as lengthy, began this system in 2017, the one considered one of its type in South Carolina. He mentioned within the years since, he and the opposite workers with the nonprofit have needed to constantly encourage usually reluctant purchasers to take doses of naloxone with them after they got here in for different companies. 

That is modified for the reason that pandemic.

“You may sense a worry, a degree of desperation of simply, ‘Please we want Narcan and we want lots of it. And in case you have additional I am going to take additional, as a result of I’ve associates who need it,’” Burrows mentioned.

Whereas earlier than the pandemic, Problem Inc. was pushing its purchasers to take the overdose drug, now the nonprofit is struggling to maintain it on the cabinets.

Final week, the group obtained a cargo of 1,000 doses and by Monday, solely 500 have been left. And people who remained have been already accounted for and simply ready to be packaged earlier than they have been meted out. 

The week earlier than the newest cargo got here in, Problem Inc. ran out solely, an incidence that is turning into extra frequent each month. Burrows mentioned it is troublesome to inform somebody in want that the availability is gone when a dose of the drug may imply the distinction between life and dying.

“There’s only a fearful, hopeless feeling,” he mentioned. 

Comply with Conor Hughes on Twitter at @ConorJHughes.


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