Haven for Hope Security Talks Narcan

Narcan Nasal Spray
Narcan Nasal Spray | Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In an effort to counter the rising number of opioid overdose deaths, San Antonio-based Haven for Hope’s line safety officers have been trained to use Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose and save a person’s life.

“We work closely with outside agencies like San Antonio Fire Department to have our [line safety officers] trained, to be prepared to respond to an incident in case somebody is experiencing an overdose,” said Haven’s life safety director, Christy Martinez, in an interview with KSAT. “With the rising numbers in overdoses related to fentanyl and opioids, it was important for us to make sure that we had that available for us here on campus.”

Charles Buendia, a line safety officer (LSO), said he has been involved with most of the Narcan cases the campus has experienced in the last two years. Haven reported that nine clients’ lives had been saved by using Narcan nasal spray to reverse the effects of an overdose. Buendia has saved six people’s lives in his role as an LSO.

“It’s actually quite often I’ve had clients come up. They’ve been near death and then a few days later when I see them after they get discharged from the hospital say, ‘Hey, bro, you saved my life.’ And in fact, they get into our treatment program,” Buendia said, per KSAT.

Opioid-related overdose deaths have steadily been climbing over the last several years and have accelerated as fentanyl has become prolific in the United States. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is far more potent than heroin. It is frequently added to other drugs and sold in pill form. Many overdoses happen when a person takes a pill unexpectantly laced with fentanyl.

The crisis has spurred several pieces of legislation, as reported by The Dallas Express. Among the new laws meant to grapple with the crisis, school children will now receive a drug awareness class beginning at age 6, Narcan will be distributed to state colleges and universities, and October has been named “Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month.”

The state has begun cracking down on people accused of manufacturing and distributing fentanyl-laced pills, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Michele Steeb, a homelessness policy expert and author, told The Dallas Express in an interview last year that “Housing First” homelessness solution programs are failing the homeless population because such programs do not address drug addiction.

“There’s no requirement to be sober. There’s no requirement to engage in any sort of services,” Steeb explained. “There’s no requirement to be employed.”

Steeb added that programs such as Haven for Hope present a better model to help people get off the streets and have an opportunity to move forward in life.

Haven for Hope operates a “one-stop-shop” for homeless services, which includes drug counseling, job training, mental health services, and transitional housing, all on the same campus. Its “one-stop-shop” model has been credited with reducing downtown San Antonio’s unsheltered homeless population by 77%, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Some 75% of Dallas residents believe homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling continue to be “major” problems throughout the city, according to polling conducted by The Dallas Express. Additionally, polling of Dallas residents indicates support for the “one-stop-shop” homelessness solutions model. Some local stakeholders are looking to bring the model to Dallas, but it remains to be seen whether City officials will embrace the approach.

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