An old newsstand now holds free Narcan kits in Port Huron

Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center staff member Barbara Alexander and executive director Patrick Patterson pose beside the new news stand that provides free Narcan kits outside the facility located at 617 10th St., in Port Huron, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. BWROC installed the stand in partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan - a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society.
Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center staff member Barbara Alexander and executive director Patrick Patterson pose beside the new news stand that provides free Narcan kits outside the facility located at 617 10th St., in Port Huron, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. BWROC installed the stand in partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan - a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society.

Visitors to Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center might notice a new newspaper stand outside the door. But reach inside and you won't find newspapers. Instead, the stand contains life-saving medicine for someone experiencing a drug overdose.

The stand provides free Naloxone kits, also known as its brand name Narcan, which contain a drug that reverse the effects of an overdose. Available at 617 10th St. in Port Huron, the kits are available for anyone to take.

BWROC installed the stand in partnership with Harm Reduction MI — a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society — on Nov. 22 and it will be replenished as needed.

“Narcan kits reverses the effect of an overdose and gives a person a second chance. We believe in second chances at BWROC," said Pat Patterson, BWROC's executive director.

Patterson said the stand will put the kits in the hands of BWROC's clients — the population that has a high probability of being in an environment where someone has overdosed or who may relapse and overdose themselves.

"That's who needs (Narcan). Mom and dad don't need it. They're not next to the person dying," Patterson said. "It's the person who came through our doors two months later, happens to be in an environment where they're near somebody who did overdose or somebody that relapses. We gave it to them while they're sober and now they know that they have it."

The new news stand that provides free Narcan kits outside the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center located at 617 10th St., in Port Huron, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. BWROC installed the stand in partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan - a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society.
The new news stand that provides free Narcan kits outside the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center located at 617 10th St., in Port Huron, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. BWROC installed the stand in partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan - a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society.

Harm Reduction MI spokesperson Pamela Lynch said providing free and readily available Narcan kits to the community reduces overdose deaths. The kits can help keep someone experiencing substance use disorder alive until they are ready to enter treatment and recovery.

"Some people think distributing naloxone or Narcan is enabling drug users. This is absolutely not true," Lynch said in an email. "It’s fairly simple: a person who has died of an overdose can not recover. If a person dies of an overdose, they do not, 'learn a lesson.'"

Lynch said the organization got the idea for the newspaper stands after sheriff departments began offering free Narcan kits in vending machines. The organization has placed 30 free stands in urban, suburban and rural communities across the state.

More on Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center

In February, BWROC received $400,000 in American Rescue Plan dollars to support the expansion of the organization's recovery coaching over the next three years and for other costs, such as a van, building renovation and office equipment.

Patterson said those funds have already been put into action, as the organization increased their recovery coach staff from five to six this year. The organization plans to add more recovery coaches to the staff, although the number of new hires has yet to be hammered out.

About 125 to 150 people comes through BWROC's doors each week for recovery coaching, support groups and more. About 96 people receive recovery coaching through BWROC, and the organization has conducted more than 1,440 recovery coaching sessions this year, Patterson said.

The Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center located at 617 10th St., in Port Huron, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. BWROC installed the news stand that provides free Narcan kits in partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan - a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society.
The Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center located at 617 10th St., in Port Huron, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. BWROC installed the news stand that provides free Narcan kits in partnership with Harm Reduction Michigan - a healthy equity organization based in Traverse City that aims to reduce the harmful effects of substance use disorder on society.

Patterson said the organization is at the busiest its ever been with more and more people using its services.

"The future is bright, vibrant and busy," he said.

BWROC is licensed through Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs as a substance use disorder program. While the organization does not provide treatment, it supports those in recovery by serving as community navigators to help people find treatment, counseling, housing, employment and more. The group also provides a community and social support for people in recovery.

To learn more about their services, call (810) 689-4858 or visit bwroc.org/.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or lfitzgeral@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: BWROC offering free Narcan kits at Port Huron office