New program to distribute Narcan to released inmates

By Rosanne Fohn

The UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing is initiating a novel program with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office to distribute the lifesaving medication Narcan to those leaving the jail. Narcan is a naloxone spray used to reverse opioid overdose.

“Evidence shows that individuals being released from incarceration are 40 times more likely to die from overdose in the first two weeks than members of the general public. Knowing these facts, the aim of this program is to provide Narcan and education to inmates and their family members to prevent overdose deaths,” said Lisa Cleveland, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, associate professor of nursing, who is leading the program in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office.

This new program is the first in Texas to provide Narcan to individuals leaving incarceration. It is fully funded by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) through a federal grant received from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. It is part of a $17.5 million contract awarded to Dr. Cleveland in March to expand statewide the School of Nursing’s work of providing training and naloxone to first responders, to save lives threatened by opioid overdose.

Dr. Cleveland and her team are collaborating with and supported by many Texas organizations and agencies, particularly Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, and are training organizations and individuals while distributing Narcan throughout the state.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Sheriff’s Office to provide this lifesaving medication to the formerly incarcerated who are at significant risk of overdose death. This program is just one example of Bexar County’s willingness to be forward-thinking in addressing the current U.S. opioid crisis.” Dr. Cleveland said.

“We are happy to provide Narcan to those leaving the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. It will make their re-entry into our community safer. We are grateful to Dr. Cleveland and her team for their efforts and for working with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) to help us activate the program. This is one more way Bexar County is working to assure the safety of the community,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

Narcan recipients, their families and friends can learn how to use Narcan and get more information about opioid overdose prevention at The home page features a brief video showing how to use Narcan to save a life.

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