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The rate of opioid deaths in Alabama has more than doubled from 2012 to 2017, which had 422 recorded opioid overdose deaths. Project FREEDOM, which stands for First Responder Expansion of Education and Distribution of Overdose Medication, wants to fix this problem.

Project FREEDOM is a four-year, $3.2 million-dollar project that is focusing on 14 rural Alabama counties – Blount, Cullman, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Lawrence, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, St. Clair, Shelby, Walker and Winston. It is also focusing on two urban counties – Jefferson and Tuscaloosa. Their goal is to reduce opioid overdose deaths in rural Alabama by educating first responders on how to handle these types of overdoses.

To achieve this goal, in-depth training and educational resources will be given to first responders on opioid overdoses and reversal. Narcan is a nasal spray that is the only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone. It is used for the emergency treatment of an opioid overdose. It works by counteracting with life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose.

Project FREEDOM also aims to ensure everyone knows about Alabama’s Good Samaritan Law. The Good Samaritan Law may provide for bystanders who seek medical attention on behalf of someone else and for First Responders administering naloxone. https://mh.alabama.gov/understanding-the-opioid-crisis/

“In addition to first responders, the project will have a focus on healthcare provider training related to opioid overdose dangers, overdose surveillance data in their county, and treatment and recovery options for their patient population,” said Shanna McIntosh, UA VitAL project director.

“It is important for Alabamians to understand the dangers of exposure overdose, proper use and disposal of prescribed opioids, and the Good Samaritan Law, which is in place to encourage bystanders to take action when someone is in need. A targeted media campaign will run statewide, and community education forums will be held in the 16-county area. Community trainings will cover the dangers of high-toxicity opioids, opioid prescription safety and Mental Health First Aid.”

VitAL is committed to bringing down Alabama’s opioid overdose death rates. Through research and education, we can help members of our community from overdosing and lead them to recovery.