SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — As the county grapples with growing numbers of deaths from overdoses of fentanyl and other opioids, the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) is deploying a comprehensive series of initiatives to prevent overdose deaths in local communities.
A pivotal piece of this prevention approach is the County’s strategy to distribute naloxone – the life-saving medication that can reverse opioid overdoses – through vending machines. The County embarked on this project in fall 2022 with the goal of making naloxone available, at no cost, immediately to anyone in local communities. Leading the effort is the Santa Clara County Opioid Overdose Prevention Project, known as SCCOOPP. In the first year of the project, SCCOOPP partnered with county organizations to install five vending machines at the two County jails, Juvenile Hall, Santa Clara University, and Mission College. SCCOOPP has begun working closely with more area colleges to place vending machines and plans to install more machines at local community centers, health centers, clinics, and non-profit organizations.
To bolster access, Santa Clara Valley Healthcare has also begun providing free naloxone through nine of its Valley Health Center Primary Care Clinics located throughout Santa Clara County. In addition, BHSD offers free naloxone kits at three of its Addiction Medicine clinics. This expanded access will add to the 25,000 naloxone kits the County has distributed since 2017.
Mira Parwiz, BHSD’s Division Director of Medication Assisted Treatment Services, said of the efforts to improve access, “We’ve chosen to use a bold tactic to confront the opioid crisis in our county. This is a challenging effort, but addressing this crisis requires innovative thinking and immediate action. Giving our communities free access to naloxone can save lives.”
Another component of the County strategy is a new media campaign designed to raise awareness about fentanyl and other opioids. The campaign targets two primary audiences: youth and young adults and parents and guardians. Ads focused on youth prompt viewers to “save a life” by visiting www.FentFacts.org, a webpage with more facts on fentanyl, resources, and information on where to get naloxone. Developed in partnership with the national non-profit, Song for Charlie, PSAs for parents and guardians encourage them to talk to their kids about opioids and visit www.TheNewDrugTalk.org to learn what they can say to engage and what they can do to protect them.
Both English and Spanish ads are reaching audiences through various media platforms online, on public displays including billboards and buses, and on TV. The campaign’s first phase launched on November 20 and will be on-air until the end of the year, with additional phases going live in 2024. “Getting this information out through so many different media channels meets the public where they are,” said BHSD Director Sherri Terao. “The campaign is part of a social marketing strategy to motivate the community to learn and to act.”
To accompany the comprehensive response to the ongoing opioid crisis, the County offers training on overdose response and naloxone use. The County has trained thousands of community members from schools, law enforcement agencies, community centers, health care clinics, County agencies, and other organizations. Trainings are free and open to the public; all who attend receive a free naloxone kit. The County encourages everyone in the community to take action by getting trained and carrying naloxone. More information about training and the life-saving medication can be found at https://bhsd.sccgov.org/information-resources/opioid-overdose-prevention-project/rescue-and-training.
More about the impacts of fentanyl on Santa Clara County, and how to help, is available at www.FentFacts.org. Help with preparing and talking to your kids and loved ones about opioids can be found at www.TheNewDrugTalk.org.
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.
Visit the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department at https://www.bhsd.sccgov.org/