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Save a Life Day to be WV’s largest naloxone distribution event

MORGANTOWN — Save a Life Day is coming to more than 70 host locations across 17 West Virginia counties to distribute the necessary tools to reverse opioid overdoses.

“We encourage everyone to carry naloxone because you never know when you might be in a situation where someone would experience an overdose,” said Milan Puskar Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones. “It’s essential that people stay alive so that they can eventually get into treatment.”

Monongalia County’s Save a Life Day will be hosted by Health Right from 1-6 p.m Sept. 8 at the clinic at 341 Spruce St. Tents will be set up to teach attendees about addiction and distribute naloxone kits.

This will be the largest day of naloxone distribution in West Virginia yet. Naloxone, also often recognized by the brand name Narcan, is an easy-to-use nasal spray with no adverse side effects that works to reverse opioid overdoses. The majority of naloxone for this Save a Life Day will be provided by the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy.

Locations will be available across counties hit the hardest by opioid-related deaths.  Kanawha, Cabell, Berkeley, Logan, Mercer, Harrison, Wayne, Marion, McDowell, Jefferson, Putnam, Wyoming and Morgan counties will also have locations set up Sept. 8. Boone County is scheduled to host Sept. 9. 

More than 4,000 naloxone kits containing two doses each will be available for distribution statewide. All locations will offer training and education along with resources for accessing recovery services. 

Last year, West Virginia saw an uptick in fatal opioid-related overdoses with nearly 1,300 deaths, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Resources.

For Health Right, the alarming statistics recorded over the past year made it vital to bring the event to Monongalia County for the first time. 

“This year is not looking a whole lot better than last year as far as overdose numbers,” Jones said. “We really want to get naloxone, which is the generic name for Narcan, out to as many people as possible.”

Cassidy Thompson, outreach specialist with the Coalition to End Homelessness, is in long-term recovery from addiction, and her life was one of the thousands saved by naloxone. Because addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, the life-saving drug had to be administered multiple times before Thompson was ready to enter recovery.

Today, she is helping others suffering from addiction and is able to spend time raising her children.

“I’ve worked to destigmatize naloxone and destigmatize people that use, because everyone deserves life-saving resources,” she said.

She said even those who are unsure if they want to carry naloxone are encouraged to learn more about addiction and recovery.

“Even if people are on the fence about whether or not they want to carry naloxone, just coming out and getting information [and] education is always really powerful and empowering,” she said. “The only bad decision is one that is uninformed.”

Caitlin Sussman, Health Right social worker, said along with distributing the life-saving drug, Health Right has a similar goal for the event.  She said this stigma is often what keeps those in need from seeking necessary treatment, and also prevents the illness from being a policy priority.

“Unfortunately, addiction is really thought of as a kind of a moral failing [or] people just not wanting to try hard enough,” she said. “Really, it is a medical condition, just like any other medical conditions where people receive life-saving medication.”

For more information on the event, visit Naloxone is also available for purchase in pharmacies as an over-the-counter drug for those unable to attend the event. Those in need of help with addiction can call the free-and-confidential treatment referral hotline 800-662-HELP or visit

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