A free naloxone kit giveaway will begin next week across Pennsylvania.

Locally, the Department of Health office at 142 Colonial Drive in North Towanda and the Dushore Fire Department at 212 Julia St. will be distributing kits from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 18 and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 25, as long as supplies last.

“Naloxone has one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system to save someone’s life,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is impossible to get someone in to treatment who is dead. In 2018, more than 4,400 people died from a drug overdose. Every Pennsylvanian has a role to play as a potential first responder and can save a life by having naloxone on hand and using it if they come across someone who has overdosed.”

According to Governor Tom Wolf’s office, more than 25,000 people have been revived with naloxone by police and EMS since 2014. Officials noted that naloxone is also available at most pharmacies for free or at a low cost with insurance.

“We are at a critical crossroads in combating the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith. “We have a choice to accept overdoses and the disease of addiction as the new normal or to fight back. I choose to fight. We simply cannot get an individual the help they desperately need following an overdose if they are dead. I hope that all Pennsylvanians use the naloxone distribution days to proactively take action to save our loved ones.”

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania also renewed its Opioid Disaster Declaration for the seventh time.

Wolf initially signed the declaration in January 2018 as a way to enable more collaboration, loosen regulations that slow access to treatment, and increase prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts.

“The disaster declaration and its provisions remain a strong force in battling the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “Through the Opioid Command Center and its dedicated 17 state agencies collaborating on education, prevention, rescue and recovery, we have been able to make progress that resulted in a deduction in overdose deaths in 2018. But we are far from proclaiming victory and the continuation of the disaster declaration means a continuation of a commitment to doing all we can to fight this scourge on our commonwealth.”