The Anne Arundel County Health Department held a news conference Monday to promote seven vending machines it has installed throughout the county that offer naloxone, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses.

The vending machines, purchased with grant funds, allow people to acquire the medication at no cost and without having to interact with anyone. The machines operate using the honor system, said Dr. Tonii Gedin, the county’s health officer. However, there is a delay on the machine if too many items are selected at once.

The vending machines are also stocked with fentanyl test strips, Xylazine test strips, masks and COVID-19 tests.

“We hope these machines have the impact that we think they will have in the community,” Gedin said.

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Three machines have already been in use for a month and all three have been restocked, according to Gedin.

As of March 7, there were 75 overdoses this year, including 16 fatal overdoses, according to the county health department’s opioid dashboard.

The county health department has been working to provide prevention and education services such as the Opioid Misuse Prevention Program, which educates the public on the dangers of opioids, and recovery support services, such as peer programs and intensive care coordination.

Vending machines can be found at the Brooklyn Park library, the Deale library, Eastport Community Center, the Jennifer Road Detention Center, Severn Center, the Ordnance Road Correctional Center, and the county Health Services Building in Annapolis. The Health Services location is temporary, however, and that machine will soon be moved to the Glen Burnie Health Center. After monitoring the use of the machines, the county could add more.

“These locations across the county were thoughtfully selected to reduce barriers to essential, life-saving tools,” Gedin said in a statement. “We are hopeful this evidence-based strategy of harm reduction will change the narrative and prevent death from overdose. By making fentanyl test strips, naloxone nasal spray, and other critical harm-reduction supplies free and available without stigma, we can drive down the injury and harm from opioid overdoses in our community.”

Royale Bonds attended Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! She previously worked as an affordable housing reporter in Greenville, South Carolina. Royale enjoys long naps, snacking and endless scrolling on social media. She looks forward to reporting on Anne Arundel County and covering the stories that matter.

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