By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–People in custody at all San Diego County Sheriff’s Department jails will have easy access to lifesaving medication to help prevent overdoses, authorities said.
The jails will carry Naloxone, a medication that blocks the action of opioids or narcotics. Also known as Narcan, it comes as a nasal spray that can rapidly reverse the effects of opioids in the body so a person can breathe normally again.
These changes were implemented on June 1 during the medical screening process at Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility, San Diego Central Jail, and Vista Detention Facility.
The Narcan kits are placed in the common areas of the housing units, as well as visitation areas of detention facilities.
Individuals will watch an instructional video on administering the medication during the booking process. The instructional video will also be shown repeatedly in the housing units as a reminder for people in custody on how to administer the lifesaving drug. The medication in housing units also comes with a photo instruction.
The Sheriff’s Department started research on the implementation of this program in 2021 by consulting and visiting various detention facilities across California.
Narcan is not a substitute for treatment. It is an urgent action that helps start the emergency medical response. Deputies and medical staff will immediately respond once alerted to an overdose emergency. Staff are instructed to call 9-1-1, and continue to administer Narcan, perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, and other life support measures until paramedics arrive.
All detention deputies already carry doses of Naloxone. From 2020 to now, deputies in the jails have used Naloxone more than 400 times in suspected overdose cases. More than 1,200 doses of Naloxone were used in these incidents with some individuals needing more than a dozen Narcan before starting to wake up from an overdose.
Upon release, those with substance use treatment needs and at risk for opioid overdose are given access to free Naloxone and may be connected to treatment programs in the community for continuity of care.
“Making Narcan readily available to people in custody is part of our ongoing efforts and comprehensive plan to increase safety and healthcare in our jails,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
The Sheriff’s Department has also implemented new medical protocols to screen all individuals being booked into their custody for substance abuse. Deputies will use body scanners, x-rays, six drug-sniffing K-9s, pat-downs, surprise checks of housing units, and mail processing centers to detect illegal narcotics.
“We know from data that 82 percent of men and 67 percent of women who enter county jail have illicit drugs in their system at the time of booking,” Undersheriff Kelly Martinez said in a video message. “We do everything we can to prevent illicit drugs from entering the jail. However, the driver of addiction is a powerful motivator for individuals to smuggle them in.”