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Fentanyl task force on Hawaiʻi Island distributes Narcan to the community

Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force poses at booth.
Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center
Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force poses at booth.

The increase in statewide fentanyl-related overdoses and arrests this year has prompted several agencies and community organizations to step up efforts to curb the illicit use of the opioid.

It’s been six months since Kimo Alameda stepped up to be the lead of the Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force. He serves as Vice President of Hawaiʻi Island Community Health Center.

How bad is the problem? He believes it’s worse than you think.

"The sad reality is that we do have a substance abuse problem in Hawaiʻi, and in our nation," Alameda says.

He says that one person every 11 days is dying from this drug. However, he says three people every 11 days are being saved. This is due to people like Alameda who are educating others on how to reverse overdoses.

The use of a drug called Narcan can reverse effects of an overdose, says Alameda, and luckily Hawaiʻi Island just received about 4,000 boxes of it.

"We're advertising it anybody who is at risk of an overdose or live with somebody at risk, or maybe any household with pain medication, you should have a box of Narcan."

Alameda says he continues to spread the word on the dangers of overdosing as much as he can.

"I've seen it hurt my own family as a as a kid growing up. And it's to the point where now these overdoses are really coming close to home."

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 2, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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