Churches Provide Help for Opioid Emergencies
by the Rev. Deacon Loretta Go,
Chair of the Diocese of Missouri's Episcopal Recovery Ministries
November 17, 2023
Approximately three people die from an opioid overdose in Missouri every day. Nationwide, more than 106,000 opioid-related deaths were reported from May 2022 to May 2023. This class of drug encompasses both prescription opioids and illicit opioids, including pain pills, heroin, and fentanyl derivatives.
Narcan (naloxone) is a potentially lifesaving medication that can revive someone who has overdosed on opioids. Until recently, Narcan was available only by prescription, but it is now available to the uninsured or underinsured at various locations such as the public library, health department, and recovery centers.
Two parishes in the Diocese of Missouri are also helping to distribute this medication: Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis' Central West End and St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Ellisville. Both locations have a Narcan box (similar to a blessing box) on their property, making the lifesaving drug available 24/7 at no cost.
According to the Rev. Leslie Scoopmire, St. Martin's rector, some 40 doses of Narcan have been picked up in the six weeks since the box was installed.
The Narcan boxes at St. Martin's and Trinity, CWE were constructed and installed by local activist Kevin FitzGerald of Ballwin. The Rev. Dn. Loretta Go, chair of Episcopal Recovery Ministries for our Diocese, met Kevin in August at the International Overdose Awareness Day service held at Trinity. After honoring and grieving loved ones lost to overdose and acknowledging the grief of those left behind, the service moved outdoors for the dedication of the new Life Box/Narcan Box Kevin had installed on the premises.
After attending the dedication, Deacon Loretta started researching Life Boxes and Narcan Boxes, and found none in West County. She contacted Kevin and asked whether he would consider installing one at St. Martin’s. Shortly afterwards, she talked to Mother Leslie and then to local law enforcement at a “Coffee with a Cop” event, and both were supportive of the idea. In early October, Kevin placed his 12th Life Box on our grounds, and St. Martin’s will hold a blessing ceremony on November 19.
Kevin is particularly proud of this box at St. Martin's because it is the first in West County. He purchases the materials and provides the construction labor himself, asking only for a donation to cover a fraction of the cost of materials. Kevin has one remaining box like the boxes here and at Trinity, CWE and is working on a different design that would reduce the cost of materials and therefore increase the number of boxes that can be placed.
St. Martin's Narcan Box has been registered with Missouri Naloxone Providers and appears on a map showing locations where naloxone is available. Carrying naloxone is no different than carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (commonly known by the brand name EpiPen) for someone with allergies. It simply provides an extra layer of protection for those at a higher risk for overdose.
Online training on how to administer Narcan is available through the University of Missouri - St. Louis or from the American Red Cross. To learn more, please visit https://www.ermdiocesemo.org/episcopal-diocese-of-mo--wider-church.html.
Get more information about Episcopal Recovery Ministries in the Diocese of Missouri.