Holy Family Parish, a Catholic church in Cincinnati, Ohio, added a new giveaway to their family festival this year: Narcan kits.
Jeremy Bauer, the church operations manager at Holy Family Parish in Cincinnati said he decided to offer the drug after witnessing three people within a few weeks overdose on heroin in front of his church and nearby.
“It was a bold step,” Bauer tells PEOPLE. “We’re showing there’s no shame that this (overdoses) is really happening.”
The festival at the 133-year-old Catholic church has been taking place for decades, usually seeing hundreds of people enjoying bands, food, and carnival games. But among the cake walks, Bingo games and face painting this year was a booth where fest-goers could pick up a two-dose box of Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses.
Volunteers gave away about 70 packages of Narcan, which is available over the counter in Ohio and other states.
The opioid epidemic has reached new heights in Ohio and other states in recent years, and churches are considering how they can support relief and intervention to save lives. Training staff to recognize an overdose and stocking Narcan kits in church offices is an idea that some parishes are considering; although some critics worry that the antidote itself promotes a false sense of security and safety among addicts, leading to even more overdoses.
Does your church have a wise strategy for helping to tackle opioid addiction and overdose in your community?
Read more on Holy Family Parish’s decision to distribute Narcan at People.com.