WAUKESHA, Wis. — With fentanyl and opioid overdose deaths on the rise, those living in Waukesha County now have easy and free access to a life-saving medication.
Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, is an opioid overdose reversal medication now available in a first-of-its-kind vending machine in Wisconsin.
Lindsay Just, executive director of the Addiction Resource Council, said using a vending machine makes sense because they are accessible, anonymous and have plenty of space for inventory.
“The vending machine works just like any basic vending machine, where you press the buttons and the machine dispenses,” Just explained.
However, unlike the typical vending machine, everything in the one at the Alano Club of Waukesha at 318 W. Broadway is free.
“This is somebody’s chance to get into recovery, right? So in our mind, this could be somebody’s opportunity and their moment to get into recovery, to allow us to give them additional resources, to allow us to help them to the next step,” Just said.
The nonprofit Addiction Resource Council bought the vending machine and ensures it stays stocked with Narcan.
Thanks to a grant from the state, Waukesha County Health and Human Services provides the Narcan to fill the machine.
Joe Kiel, who also works for the Addiction Resource Council, has been in recovery for eight years and is grateful to see something that saved his life so readily accessible to others.
“I think with the stigma behind Narcan, it’s really important to remember that this is not only for people struggling with addiction,” Kiel said. “This could be your best friend, this could be your grandparent, this could be your child. This medication helps save lives, and that goes across the board. It’s for anybody.”
Each kit includes two doses of Naloxone, along with a QR code linked to a training video.
The Alano Club of Waukesha, which is a place for people in recovery to gather and support each other, was picked as the site for the vending machine because of the additional resources it can offer those in need.
The club, run by volunteers, has been around for nearly 50 years. Since the machine was installed in late May, more than a hundred kits have been dispensed.
Just hopes that effort will help normalize Narcan in the community.
“This is no different than an EpiPen,” Just said. “You never know when you’re going to need it.”
The Addiction Resource Council said they would like to install three to four more machines around Waukesha County within the next year.