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September 03, 2015

Free heroin overdose kits available in Bucks, Berks

Free heroin antidote kits are available to residents in Bucks and Berks counties.

In hopes of curbing overdose deaths, Berks County will provide residents with free heroin antidote kits, the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) announced Tuesday.

The county has had at least 20 overdose deaths so far this year – nearly double last year’s total.

The heroin overdose prevention initiative, in conjunction with the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, will allow residents seeking Naloxone, better known as Narcan, to simply contact COCA and request the drug.

Narcan will be available at COCA’s offices and will be given, free of charge, after residents complete a short online course in administering the drug.

In Bucks County, D.A.V.E. - Drug Addiction oVerdose Education Inc. – will hold its first session in Lower Bucks County on Sept. 15 to provide the overdose kits and training. The program will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the offices of The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania Inc., 1286 Veterans Highway - Suite D-6, in Bristol. Reservations are required and sign-ups are limited. To register, individuals should send their name to and indicate that they are interested in attending the event. Once the event is full, individuals can join a waiting list for a future event.

Since January, D.A.V.E has distributed 150 kits containing 300 doses of Naloxone.

When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin) on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes.

"We (Berks County) have found ourselves in the middle of a heroin epidemic – usage rates, overdose and even overdose deaths are all on the rise," George Vogel, executive director of the Council on Chemical Abuse, said in a statement. 

"Understanding how to prevent overdose could save more lives, and getting Naloxone into the hands of the public, is imperative. An Overdose Prevention Kit containing Naloxone should be found right alongside emergency medical kits and AEDs."

Naloxone is already available for county schools, shelters and police, as well as other sites and locations where either overdoses frequently occur or where first responders can access the medication.

In Camden County alone, police officers have saved the lives of more than 100 people through the emergency use of Narcan. In Burlington County, three major hospitals provide local police departments with free supplies of the overdose-reversing drug.