Austin opioid crisis: Over 7K narcan kits to be distributed across Travis County

The moment someone's life is in your hands, you want the solution to be there too. And a solution that, literally, fits in your palm, is at your fingertips.

That was the message brought forward by the city, county and federal leaders at the Central Library.

It came on the heels of a major overdose event in Austin earlier this month. Nine people reportedly died and close to 80 overdosed within less than a week.

"It takes all of us coming together to confront this crisis," said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. "Nobody, no one entity, no one group, can do it alone." 

Congress man Lloyd Doggett secured $2 million in appropriated federal funding to address the issue.

"I will certainly continue efforts to try to secure more in the way of support and backup," said Rep. Doggett. "We've been urging the Biden administration to leverage every possible dollar available from the national opioid settlements as one source of funding."

Part of the $2 million will go toward the purchase and local distribution of 7,500 Narcan kits, equal to 15,000 individual doses, along with the expansion of various outreach and educational programs.


The naloxone kits will be distributed around Travis County, including at local libraries. High-risk areas, for example, where prior overdoses have occurred, will be prioritized.

"Organizations and cities across the United States are looking to Austin to see the innovative ideas that we have here, both in Austin and Travis County," said ATCEMS Chief Robert Luckritz.

Narcan is a brand name of the drug 'naloxone.' It can be used to reverse overdoses from any kind of opioid, not just fentanyl.

"It actually attaches to the same receptors that the opioid does in your brain. That's how it works," said Randy Chhabra, commander of the ATCEMS Community Health Paramedic Program. "But it has a greater affinity. It has a greater attachment to those receptors. So it bumps off those opioids that are on those receptors in your brain and then fills that space."

A major sign that an opioid overdose is occurring is if a person's breathing slows or comes to a complete stop. 

If responding to someone who has overdosed on an opioid, call 911 and then administer Narcan. Wait a few minutes before giving another dose if there is no response to the medication. Place them on their side in the recovery position and make sure someone stays with them until EMS arrives, as naloxone can wear off within as little as 30 minutes, and they could need another dose.