Narcan distribution, Wilmington East Side

Block by block, on sidewalks and on doorsteps, and in small shops on Wilmington's East Side, people received doses of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan one recent afternoon.

It's a mission that regularly visits communities up and down the state. On this particular day, about 200 doses of Narcan were distributed in less than 90 minutes.

Doctors, health professionals and counselors also provided instruction in how to administer the dose. They also handed out literature on treatment options and local resources.

"This is a heavy area, with drugs around here," Wilmington City Councilwoman Zanthia Oliver said. 

"We're hoping we can get Narcan in the hands of the people, and basically we're trying to stop people from dying by giving them the reversal agent in hand," St. Francis Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Sandra Gibney said. "We've noted that a lot of times the overdose is in the homes and we don't get to them. Getting to the people where they live, in their homes, is really what we're trying to do." 

Narcan distribution in this case was coordinated by Delaware's Behavioral Health Consortium and Brandywine Counseling and Community Services. Oliver and health officials helped to identify areas that could benefit most from the outreach.

Christine Kirkland was one of the residents who accepted Narcan, for possible use later.

"You never know when one of these tools might be useful in helping a person to live," Kirkland said.

According to Andre Rider, a certified peer counselor and outreach worker with Brandywine Counselor, the distribution effort is about "pretty much showing love to people throughout our communities."

"I know this is not about me, but I was one of those people at one time in my life," Rider said. "Going out and helping other folks that were in a position like me is just a great feeling."

Also part of the group was a Delaware nurse: Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, chair of the Behavioral Health Consortium.

"This is in every neighborhood and in every zip code, and most of the deaths occur in a home," Hall-Long said. "If you have a loved one who you know is using, don't be ashamed. It is OK not to be OK. We'll get [Narcan] into your hands, and you can save your loved one."

At James and Jesse Barbershop, Jesse Dendy said the outreach was needed and appreciated in the community.

"I think we need it all over America."

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For addiction information and resources, visit www.helpisherede.com 

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.