Five AtlantiCare facilities in South Jersey will distribute free Narcan on Friday.

“We are still in the midst of an opioid epidemic and we are losing people daily to this epidemic,” said Gloria-Ann Seel, the senior director of addictions with AtlantiCare.

The drug overdose death total in Jersey topped 3,000 last year. Officials are hopeful the total is finally starting to decrease. But even if that's the case, opioid abuse continues at an epidemic pace.

Seel said even with all of the attention being paid to this issue, “we continue to see more and more people from all different walks of life affected by substance use and by overdoses and I think that’s the piece that oftentimes gets lost.”

She stressed while handing out Narcan isn’t the answer to the problem, it does allow quick action to be taken when an overdose occurs — “which then allows for us to get medical treatment on scene and help ensure someone does not pass away from the overdose.”

While some abusers do continue to use drugs after being revived with Narcan, others will also seek medical care and treatment after they've been revived from an overdose.

She said many of these individuals wind up in the ER, “where we have a great opportunity for an intervention point, both with the physicians that work in our emergency departments, with nursing staff that work in the emergency department and we actually deploy recovery specialists as well.”

She explained these individuals will sit with the patient and “have a discussion around what they just experienced ... and do they want to have a discussion about what recovery could look like or what options are out there.”

“Everybody’s life is valuable and we have an opportunity to intervene and keep people alive," she said.

Free Narcan will be distributed on Friday, Aug. 30 at:

  • AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center pharmacy in Atlantic City
  • AtlantiCare Pharmacy at the William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex in Atlantic City
  • AtlantiCare Pharmacy at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Pomona
  • AtlantiCare Pharmacy in Galloway
  • AtlantiCare Pharmacy in Manahawkin

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com