RICHMOND, Ky. — The staff of one Kentucky jail and community partners are working to get a life-saving drug into more hands, as part of an effort to prevent overdose deaths. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Madison County Detention Center has a new vending machine that dispenses free boxes of Narcan

  • Narcan is a drug used to reverse overdoses 

  • The machine has dispensed over 50 boxes in 20 days, according to staff 

  • Jail staff work with the nonprofit organization Voices of Hope to connect people incarcerated in the facility to Narcan and recovery services 

The lobby of the Madison County Detention Center now has a vending machine stocked with free boxes of Narcan, which is used to reverse overdoses. 

Above the machine, a video explains how to use the drug to save someone’s life. 

Available through a partnership with UK’s HEALing Communities Study, it is like other machines in Cincinnati and Hardin County.

The machine has dispensed over 50 boxes in 20 days, according to Chief Deputy Tom Jones. 

“You have people that do want to say things like, ‘Well, if we’re going to have Narcan free then why aren’t other medications free?’” said Jones. “There’s some stigma to people that are in crisis and some stigma to people that are addicts, but then again, I reiterate, why would it ever be a bad idea to save someone’s life?” 

The project is meant to get Narcan to the public, including friends and family of people incarcerated in the detention center.

The Narcan is provided by the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, said Jones. 

He estimated about 90% of the people housed in the jail have some type of substance use disorder. 

“Usually what happens in our facility is it’s not just one overdose; it’s two, three, four,” said Jones. “We’ve had upwards of six at one time. The product that we’re seeing appears to be laced also with fentanyl.” 

Officials said because of Narcan, none of the close to 30 overdoses they have responded to in the jail since the summer of 2021 resulted in a death. 

It is stored on the walls around the jail, inside the booking area and on officers’ belts, and offered to people incarcerated there to take with them when they are released. 

Lead recovery coach Aaron Trosper, with the nonprofit organization Voices of Hope, meets with people being booked into the facility. 

“In the first 48 hours, I’ll go talk to them and see if they have opioid dependency and if they do, then we’ll do more of an assessment and see if finding a pathway to recovery will work for them,” he said. 

Trosper was revived from an overdose twice during his 25 years of addiction and is grateful to have helped connect over 500 people incarcerated in the jail to recovery services, he said.

“I really can’t put into words or describe what the feeling is,” said Trosper. “It’s one of the greatest feelings you’ll ever achieve or have in your life.”  

Now approaching three years of sobriety, Trosper believes the life-saving drug should be everywhere.