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Phoenix Libraries Used Up Month’s Supply Of Free Overdose-Reversing Drugs In A Week

August 25, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |  

Within a week, Phoenix’s public libraries used up a month’s worth of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan made available at no cost to the public. The 1,600 kits cleared out almost immediately.  

All 17 of Phoenix’s public libraries began offering the emergency overdose treatment last week. Narcan, or naloxone, is a nasal spray that reverses opioid and fentanyl overdoses.  

Mayor Kate Gallego touted the Narcan kit rollout as life-saving. Gallego told reporters that civilians and other city workers may now intervene as first responders.  

“By placing Naloxone in the hands of city employees and making it more accessible to residents, we’re creating a network of potential first responders who can make a significant impact in emergency situations,” said Gallego.

The Phoenix Public Library system didn’t post any announcements on their social media pages about the new overdose kit rollout, but did feature the young winners of their summer reading competition.

Library-goers may witness Narcan administrations while reading or dropping off their borrowed books.

As of last week, AZDHS reported nearly 800 opioid deaths, over 2,400 non-fatal opioid overdose events, and over 5,000 emergency and inpatient visits related to suspected opioid overdoses so far this year. First responders were able to administer Naloxone in about 4,000 out of 5,200 suspected opioid overdose responses (77 percent).   

Compared with 2022 totals, there are 312 less opioid deaths and over 400 more non-fatal opioid overdose events this year compared to this time last year. However, AZDHS noted that data for the last four months may still be in the process of being collected.   

It may be that the death count for this year will be greater than last year. The last four months currently report a sharp decline in opioid deaths compared to last year and 2021, but the first four months of the year overall represented an increase in deaths from last year and from 2021.   

However, the opioid death total dropped by 89 from 2021 to 2022, from around 2,000 to around 1,900.

Emergency and in-patient visits for suspected drug overdoses are occurring at similar rates this year compared with last year: over 5,700 this year compared to around 5,600 this time last year and around 6,800 this time in 2021. There are less suspected opioid overdose first responder responses compared to this time last year: around 5,200 compared to 6,300.   

A majority of opioid overdoses are due to fentanyl. Last year, nearly 66 percent of Phoenix-based opioid deaths involved fentanyl. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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