As Santa Clara County grapples with growing numbers of deaths from overdoses of fentanyl and other opioids, the Behavioral Health Services Department is deploying a comprehensive set of initiatives to prevent overdose deaths in local communities, says a press release from the county.
A key piece of this prevention approach is a strategy to distribute naloxone—the life-saving medication that can reverse opioid overdoses—through vending machines. The county embarked on this project in fall 2022 with the goal of making naloxone available, at no cost, immediately to anyone in local communities.
Leading this effort is the Santa Clara County Opioid Overdose Prevention Project, known as SCCOOPP. In the first year of the project, SCCOOPP partnered with county organizations to install five vending machines at the two county jails, Juvenile Hall, Santa Clara University and Mission College, says the press release.
SCCOOPP has begun working closely with more area colleges to place vending machines and plans to install more machines at local community centers, health centers, clinics and nonprofit organizations.
To maximize access, Santa Clara Valley Healthcare has also begun providing free naloxone through nine of its Valley Health Center Primary Care Clinics located throughout Santa Clara County. In addition, BHSD offers free naloxone kits at three of its Addiction Medicine clinics. This expanded access will add to the 25,000 naloxone kits the county has distributed since 2017, county staff said.
“We’ve chosen to use a bold tactic to confront the opioid crisis in our county,” said Mira Parwiz, BHSD’s Division Director of Medication Assisted Treatment Services. “This is a challenging effort, but addressing this crisis requires innovative thinking and immediate action. Giving our communities free access to naloxone can save lives.”
Another component of the county strategy is a new media campaign designed to raise awareness about fentanyl and other opioids. The campaign targets two primary audiences: youth/young adults and parents/guardians. Advertisements focused on youth prompt viewers to “save a life” by visiting www.FentFacts.org, a web page with more facts on fentanyl, resources and information on where to get naloxone.
Developed in partnership with the national nonprofit, Song for Charlie, PSAs for parents and guardians encourage the adults to talk to their kids about opioids and visit www.TheNewDrugTalk.org to learn what they can say to engage and what they can do to protect them, says the press release.
Both English and Spanish ads are reaching audiences through various media platforms online, on public displays including billboards and buses, and on TV, county staff said. The campaign’s first phase launched on Nov. 20 and will be on the air until the end of the year, with additional phases going live in 2024.
“Getting this information out through so many different media channels meets the public where they are,” said BHSD Director Sherri Terao. “The campaign is part of a social marketing strategy to motivate the community to learn and to act.”
To accompany the comprehensive response to the ongoing opioid crisis, the county also offers training on overdose response and naloxone use. The county has trained thousands of community members from schools, law enforcement agencies, community centers, health care clinics, County agencies and other organizations, says the release.
Trainings are free and open to the public, and all who attend receive a free naloxone kit.
More information about training and the life-saving medication can be found at tinyurl.com/3zxh3pd8.
More about the impacts of fentanyl on Santa Clara County, and how to help, is available at www.FentFacts.org. Help with preparing and talking to kids and loved ones about opioids can be found at www.TheNewDrugTalk.org.