LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Anyone leaving the Louisville jail now has access to free medication that can reverse an overdose.
The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness announced it now has a Narcan vending machine in the exit lobby, along with information on how to use it and recovery resources.
In the three weeks it has been in operation, it has distributed 67 boxes of Narcan, leaders said.
“Research has found that in the first two weeks after being released from a correctional institution that people are over 40 times more likely to die of an overdose than someone in the general population,” said Carrie Oser, co-investigator with the federally funded University of Kentucky (UK) HEALing Communities Study.
According to an investigation into deaths at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) released earlier this year, five of the 13 people in custody died between Nov. 2021 and March 2023 were killed by an overdose. Narcan was used 69 times between April 2022 and Jan. 2023, according to the report.
Since Louisville Metro Police Department placed Narcan in all of the dorms a year ago, people incarcerated in the jail have reversed 24 overdoses, the agency said.
“I want us to stop and think about this number for just a moment,” said Mariya Leyderman, chief psychologist for LMDC. “Twenty-four lives have been saved by residents alone. We have instilled trust and resources and guess what, it has been shown to work, and work effectively.”
While it has increased screening and detection, developed a K-9 unit and removed all physical mail, LMDC is still facing challenges keeping drugs out of the jail, Leyderman said.
The agency is fighting to save lives through harm reduction, medication treatment programming, re-entry services and public access to Narcan, she said.
Leaders said the UK Healing Communities Study purchased the free vending machine and supplied it with the first 300 units of Narcan.
Free Narcan is also available at several sites around Louisville, including at the health department on East Gray Street.