Eighty percent of persons released from California jails and prisons received Narcan antidote kits between 2020 and 2022, KFF Health News reports.
They also received CPR training and instructions for administering the drug overdose antidote, the May 10, 2023 story noted.
One-third of those who left a San Francisco jail with the antidote kits claimed to have stopped someone from overdosing, reported Lynn Wenger of RTI International, which conducted a study.
“As people leave jail and prison, their tolerance level for opioids is very low and the stress of release is high. This is an extremely serious problem,” Wenger said.
The antidotes are partially financed by federal grants and legal settlement from opioid vendors, The state did have to buy 1,180 kits for $62.40 each. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan is to boost opioid antidotes by producing them in the state, KFF Health News reported.
People newly released from incarceration are 40 times more likely to die than a person in general population, the story said.
The most recent data was collected in July 2022 where 95% of those being release accepted the overdose-reversal medication.
A study done in Washington state prisons concluded that the risk was 12.7 times higher within the first couple of weeks after a person is released.
These results were similar to other states like Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, a county in Chicago, according to the May 10 report.
Officials are questioning if the kits are saving lives among those release from prison because globally overdoses remain the top cause of deaths among those recently released because their tolerance for opioids fade while incarcerated.
Demian Johnson spent 35 years in prison and was paroled in 2018. He assists people released from custody and those with substance-abuse problems at a San Francisco nonprofit called Five Keys Schools and Programs.
He had two friends who died after being released following years in prison.
“He had nobody to save him, to bring him back or to issue him some Narcan. It’s not hard for me to figure out why so many are succumbing to these really, really potent drugs,” Johnson said.
In California, individuals are released with instructions on how to recognize someone overdosing, administer the doses of Narcan, and perform CPR.
The program also assists those living in low-income areas, housing parolees, a disproportionate numberoc minorities and people with disabilities.
“It’s just so scary what’s going on here, and we’re seeing it,” said Mark Malone, director of administration at Fred Brown Recovery Services, a non-profit in San Pedro that has been around for 40 years.