In the first two weeks after a person is released from jail, they are 40 times more likely to die of an overdose, according to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
"We attribute that to the fact that they may be living in a jail environment for some time, they're not using drugs during that time, and then at which point they're likely to have a lower tolerance for the drug once they emerge, but they also may be more likely to overindulge," Salazar said.
To combat that, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and UT Health San Antonio School Of Nursing are forming a partnership to give every inmate a medication that reverses opioid overdose upon release from the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. Salazar says Bexar is the first county in Texas to do this.
Narcan, also known as naloxone, is often a nasal spray which, if given at the first signs of an overdose, can bindings to opioid receptors and restores normal respiration.
UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing Associate Professor Lisa Cleveland, Ph.D., pitched the program to Salazar, alerting him to the increased risk of overdose deaths among those recently released from jail.
"Now that we know that we have to act,” Cleveland said. “Those are human lives that are at risk, and Narcan is something that is so easy to provide."
Salazar said there are some that may disapprove of providing free Narcan to those at risk for overdose, saying, “If they die, so be it.” Salazar said, “We can’t do that. The right thing to do, in my estimation, is try to save that person’s life.”
This program won’t cost the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department any money. It will be paid for by the Texas Health and Human Services commission through a federal grant from the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.
Cleveland urged everyone to go to the moreNarcanplease.com to learn more about opioid overdose protection and how to use Narcan. You can also order Narcan at the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing sponsored website.