National Security

More Restaurants, Bars Stock Up On Fentanyl, Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug As Deaths Soar

(Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images)

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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An increasing number of restaurants and bars across the country are keeping a stock of Naloxone, an antidote to fentanyl and opioid overdoses, according to The New York Times.

Local officials and nonprofit organizations are ramping up efforts to more bars and restaurants as overdoses become all too common in public spaces, according to the NYT. Between February 2022 and February 2023, there were more than 105,000 reported drug overdoses in the U.S., according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (RELATED: Biden’s DHS Chief Refuses To ‘Speculate’ Why China Is Fueling America’s Fentanyl Crisis)

Shreeta Waldon, the executive director of the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, found in 2022 that calls to emergency services made about overdoses largely occurred in neighborhoods filled with bars, according to the NYT.

In March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Narcan for over the counter access.

“Our goal is to normalize it, and make it as much a part of our normal life as possible,” Waldon said, adding that as bar owners express apprehensiveness with stocking Narcan, their workers are asking more and more for the antidote.

Maryland Bartender Kevin Foehrkolb revived a customer using Narcan during one of his shifts in a quiet local bar, according to the NYT.

“They were the type to drink beer, not get rowdy or do shots,” Foehrkolb said.

“I thought it would be something that happens at the club next door,” he said. “Not so much at a quiet place where people are just playing games in a corner, casually drinking.”

In San Francisco, drag queen Kochina Rude distributes Narcan at Oasis Nightclub and trains customers how to administer it, according to the NYT.

“Nightclubs, restaurants, bars and hospitality venues are community spaces that can empower underserved communities that might face medical discrimination,” she said, according to the NYT. “Even though that’s not necessarily what they’ve signed up to do, working in the nightlife industry, that’s the de facto of what ends up happening.”

 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

However, some in the industry aren’t so happy with the new trend of normalizing Narcan in bars and restaurants, according to the NYT.

“It shouldn’t be on these bartenders making no money,” Ryan Purdy, who works at a Philadelphia brewery that stocks Narcan, said. “It should be on someone trained for it, who is expected to save lives.”

“I didn’t want it to be viewed as a safe place to do drugs,” Meghan Joye, who runs a Manhattan bar, where a man overdosed while having a drink in 2021 and was revived by Narcan administered by manager Maria Christenson.

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