CANTON, Ohio-- The Stark County Sheriff's Office started giving Narcan kits to at-risk inmates when they're released from jail this week.
The sheriff's office said it will distribute about 75 kits containing the nasal spray antidote for opioid overdoses. Authorities held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the move.
"We take an oath to save lives and we are not in position to judge whose life is worth saving," said Stark County Sheriff's Major Dale Soltis. He said by distributing Narcan to inmates they are acting as a vehicle to end the opioid epidemic.
"Not only does this move fulfill our duty to keep Stark County safer, it steps towards getting individuals the treatment they need and to keep them out of jail and save tax payers money," Soltis said.
Keith Hochadel, President and CEO of CommQuest, said offering Narcan kits is just one step in solving the problem. He said inmates suffering from addiction and withdrawal are identified while at the Stark County Jail. Those inmates are placed in an educational program and their families are also given training on Narcan.
"This collaborative program is just one piece of the puzzle and is an example of how lives can be saved as communities work together," Hochadel said. CommQuest is Stark County's largest provider of recovery and mental health services.
The Ohio Department of Health is funding the project. Before, released inmates were encouraged to contact Project DAWN, which is focused on drug overdose prevention and first-aid education for suspected opioid overdoses.