DALTON, Mass. - Berkshire Harm Reduction is deploying free public naloxone boxes in the county, and the one outside the Dalton Senior Center is their first.

What You Need To Know

  • Berkshire Harm Reduction is putting out free public access Naloxone boxes in Pittsfield, North Adams and one in Dalton

  • The outdoor boxes hold nine kits with two doses of Naloxone. Indoor boxes are larger and hold 50 kits

  • Naloxone is a lifesaving nasal spray medication which reverses the effects of a narcotic drug overdose

  • The FDA approved the Narcan brand for over-the-counter use last month. It's the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription

“If anybody needs Narcan or needs naloxone, you just come over to the box, open the latches on the side," said program manager Sarah DeJesus. "It's stocked with Narcan. So, you just pull one of the kits out and you're good to go. Our hope is that people will take them ahead of time and have them on hand should they need them in an overdose situation.”

The Berkshire Harm Reduction team installed the Dalton box on Thursday. They said about 20 more will be placed indoors and outdoors in Pittsfield and North Adams.

In the event of an overdose emergency, there’s directions available on the packaging and on the inside of the box. DeJesus said the process is simple.

“You just peel the foil off of the back," she said, demonstrating the process. "It's just a nasal spray. So, this part goes in the nose. The bottom part is a plunger. You just push that plunger and the whole dose sprays out into someone's nose. It's very easy to use.”

Bob Dean will be responsible for refilling Berkshire County’s public naloxone boxes. He said the medicine works fairly quickly.

“It goes into the membranes," Dean said. "It kicks the opioids off. It attaches to the brain receptors in 30 to 60 minutes. As long as it's doing that, the opioids can't reattach. Think of it like a goalie in soccer, it's standing in the goal, it's kicking all the balls out - those are the opioids.”

If you witness someone experiencing an overdose, Berkshire Harm Reduction recommends always calling 911 in addition to administering Naloxone.

DeJesus said these public access boxes are part of the national HEALing Communities Study which aims to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 40% over 3 years in participating communities.

“It's partly just to get it out everywhere because it's such a safe medication and because overdose rates, not only in Berkshire County but across the U.S., are just continuing to be problematic," DeJesus said. "And so, the more resources we can throw at the issue, I think the better the outcomes will be.”

DeJesus said naloxone doesn't do any harm to someone who's not having an overdose, so it’s best to administer it if you think there’s a chance it could save someone.

If you're not near one of these boxes, Narcan is available at all Berkshire Harm Reduction locations and now over-the-counter at many pharmacies across Massachusetts.