DENVER — The Denver Sheriff Department said it's launching a Harm Reduction Release Bag program to give people released from custody tools to help prevent fentanyl overdoses.
Beginning Monday, individuals released from the Downtown Detention Center and the Denver County Jail will get a bag with the following:
- One dose of Narcan (naloxone)
- Five fentanyl test strips
- Inpatient and outpatient Medication Assisted Treatment resources in the Denver area
- Contact number for Narcan replacement
The sheriff department said all housing units and intake at both facilities will play training videos to show individuals in custody how to use naloxone and the test strips.
The 90-day pilot program will be reviewed after 30 days to determine whether it is sustainable "based on need," the sheriff department said.
“The implementation of this program is a reflection of the immediate need there is to save lives because of the fentanyl crisis our nation is experiencing,” said Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins. “Individuals who leave our custody are at risk for overdose. Offering them a Harm Reduction Release Bag may save their life or someone they know.”
Within the first two weeks after individuals are released from jail and prison, they are between 40 and 129 times more likely to die from an overdose than the general public, according to the sheriff office.
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment estimates there were approximately 449 drug-related deaths in Denver in 2021, the sheriff department said.
“We want to ensure that everyone who would like Narcan, fentanyl test strips and MAT resources have them upon release to the community,” said Dr. Nikki Johnson, chief of mental health services for the sheriff department. “Our goal is to save lives, so we can engage individuals in substance misuse treatment while looking towards the future of decreasing recidivism and increasing sobriety.”
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