XENIA, Ohio – As the state of Ohio, and the nation, continues to battle the opioid epidemic, many counties are doing everything they can to make the overdose treatment, known as naloxone, more accessible.
Colton Holly-Wolf is part of the harm reduction team for Greene County and a peer advocate.
“You have a bag there? Start loading up man,” Holly-Wolf said as he passed out boxes of free naloxone at a local Fairborn food pantry.
A major initiative for the county’s public health department is to implement the state’s Project Deaths Avoided With Naloxone (DAWN) program.
“There are cases where it happens to college students. It happens to elderly who may not have proper kidney functioning. You just never know. It’s part of first aid now,” said Holly-Wolf.
“We’re seeing more people who use stimulants overdosing, and we’re seeing the fake pills come around. People think they’re taking xanax or adderall or an oxycontin, and they’re getting fentanyl in there, and it doesn’t take much for someone to overdose,” said Melody Kingsley, Greene County public health educator and Project DAWN coordinator.
From food pantries to syringe exchange programs, you’ll find Holly-Wolf and the team out in the community to spread the word.
“In Ohio, there’s been a study done by the CDC that showed that over 70% of all overdoses had a bystander present. So just like CPR, it’s just an additional tool for our tool kit,” Kingsley said.
For Holly-Wolf, this mission is personal.
“It was pretty bad. I lived through homelessness, IV drug use and then treatment,” he said.
He stopped using in 2019 and said a local treatment program saved his life.
“I’m going to do what I can to help spread the word and help save lives,” Holly-Wolf said.
In addition to physically being out in the community, Holly-Wolf has taken his advocacy a step further.
He’s spearheaded an initiative to get kiosks with free Naloxone in different locations across Greene County.
So far they have 14 kiosks with five already in place.
“So actually we are the first people to get the kiosks from this company. So brand new, prototype, they created the mold just for us. So nothing like this is really around Greene County yet,” he said.
For Holly-Wolf, it’s a project with a bigger purpose.
“I feel like I got out of drug addiction pretty much scratch free. I had no baggage whatsoever from that and I feel like there was a reason for that. Now I try and use that to help other people,” he said.
Along with placing free naloxone spray out in the community, Greene County has also given a large supply to Fairborn High School.
There have not been any overdoses at the school, but officials say it’s just another way to be prepared.