DEARBORN — A new Narcan station inside the Dearborn Train Station dispenses the lifesaving overdose drug for free, thanks to the efforts of the city’s public health department.
The Dearborn Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on Wednesday the launch of a Narcan Vending Station, the first of several planned interventions to curb the rise of opioid-related overdoses across the city.
The program allows the Dearborn public to obtain units of Narcan – a lifesaving drug proven to reverse overdoses – at no cost to residents and in a convenient central location.
The new DPH Narcan Station is located in the lobby of the John D. Dingell Transit Center — also known as the Dearborn Train Station — located at 21201 Michigan Avenue.
“To those in the midst of that struggle, we want you to know that we have your back,” said Dearborn Director of Public Health Ali Abazeed. “We’re here to support you and that’s what this intervention is about.”
Dearborn is not immune to the pain and devastation of the opioid epidemic. Our work is about reducing harm and bringing lifesaving interventions to those closest to the pain. – Dearborn Director of Public Health Ali Abazeed
He also said that Dearborn is not immune to the pain and devastation of the opioid epidemic.
“Our work is about reducing harm and bringing lifesaving interventions to those closest to the pain,” he said. “Narcan is proven to save lives during overdose emergencies. This medication works. Making it readily available without stigma, shame or judgment is our top priority.”
According to Abazeed, the initiative is part of an approach known as harm reduction, which promotes strategies that meet people where they are and accept that not everyone is ready or capable of stopping their substance use at a given time. Instead of making judgments about where individuals suffering from addiction should be with regard to their health and behavior, harm reduction focuses on first protecting life.
“Everyone should carry Narcan, but especially family and friends of those struggling with opioid use disorder,” Abazeed said. “To those in the midst of that struggle, we want you to know that we have your back. We’re here to support you and that’s what this intervention is about.”
At a live announcement from the John D. Dingell Transit Center, Abazeed and Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud described the urgency of localized and culturally competent public health.
“We brought a public health lens to Dearborn because we believe every overdose death can be prevented,” Hammoud said. “And while won’t we solve the opioid crisis alone, we will not rest until every person affected by this disease gets the dignity and support they deserve.”
This is a harm reduction intervention and we are not in the business of making moral judgments; we are in the business of helping people. — Dearborn Department of Public Health Fellows
DPH Fellows Abby Knapp, Lama Beydoun, Maya Nassif, Amira Haidar, Najoie Zahr, Nour Salloub and Jenna Chami were instrumental in taking this intervention from initiation to delivery.
In a shared statement, they said, “This is a harm reduction intervention and we are not in the business of making moral judgments; we are in the business of helping people. In the future, our department will be thinking about ways in which we can facilitate greater access to treatment for substance use disorders, but before we can do that, we need to keep people alive. The opioid crisis touches people of all walks of life and we care about every Dearborn resident.”
The DPH secured free units of Narcan from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) under the Narcan Standing Order at no cost to the city. It also secured a vending machine as a donation from the Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD).
The DPH continues to work closely with community partners, including the pivotal partnership of ACCESS’s Substance Use Prevention Team and their ASAP Quick Response Team to “combat addiction through prevention, treatment and recovery.”
ACCESS provides wraparound services, home visits, various connection points and warm hand-offs to outpatient treatment as needed. To reach an ACCESS advocate for confidential and supportive bilingual services, anyone can text or call (313) 614-0509. Additionally, the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) offers a 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-241-4949.