Honolulu Becomes First US City To Mandate Narcan At High-Risk Locations

Starting this new year, the city of Honolulu now requires locations that it deems “high-risk” for Opioid overdose events to have Naloxone, a life-saving overdose reversal medication, on hand.

Bill 28, which was approved in May and signed in July, went into effect last week. The bill requires liquor-licensed establishments to maintain at least two doses of Naloxone spray (known as Narcan) on premises and train managers on proper usage and administration. These 850+ locations mainly include bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

In a statement to the press, Honolulu City Council member Tyler Dos Santos-Tam (who introduced the bill) highlighted the importance of accessibility to the life-saving overdose medication, stating, “Naloxone is a necessary tool these days in light of the national Opioid epidemic. It should be available and accessible in as many places as possible, in the same way we have fire extinguishers and defibrillators in case of emergencies.”

Free doses of Naloxone were given to all mandated establishments by the Honolulu Liquor Commission to help with the initial financial impact of the bill.

Increasing Overdose Risk

A public health push of this magnitude might seem strange for a state that ranks 45th out of 50 for drug overdose fatalities. Still, as with trends seen nationwide, rates of Fentanyl overdoses have risen sharply, with Hawaii seeing a 400% increase in the last five years.

Concern notably rose this past summer after a mass overdose event at a popular resort in Waikiki in June. Two fatalities occurred while three other people were hospitalized. The police report stated that Fentanyl was found at the scene.

Impact On Residents And Tourists

While public safety is the primary concern, many residents also say a rise in overdoses is, frankly, bad for business. Bill 28 was initially the brainchild of local bar and nightclub owners who have seen a rise in overdose events at their establishments and sought a way to better protect their patrons and themselves.

The bill aims to ease the burden of business owners who fear repercussions due to patrons overdosing on their property, as they say they shouldn’t be held responsible for what patrons choose to do. In response to this, an included clause covers any person who provides or administers Narcan in accordance with the bill from all liability.

Mufi Hannemann, President of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, views the rise in Opioid use as a major threat to Hawaii’s economy. He supports the bill, saying, “Hawaii needs to be seen as a safe destination…reducing the risk of a disruptive emergency at a hotel, bar, or restaurant is critical.”

Waikiki, where the overdose event occurred, is at the heart of Oahu’s tourist district, and locals fear that events like these could negatively impact Hawaii’s tourism industry, a critical component of the state’s economy.

Opioids And Alcohol

With its included criteria aimed at liquor-licensed establishments, Bill 28 recognizes that Opioid overdose risk increases in situations where alcohol is present.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlight how mixing alcohol with Opioids leads to slowed heart rate and respiratory depression, both factors that contribute to overdose risk.

Tyler Dos Santos-Tam adds his hope that this new bill will be the measure to help negate this risk and set a precedent, stating, “The new law will not only save lives, it will hopefully set an example for other cities throughout the United States.”

Get Help For Opioid Addiction

As incidences of Opioid overdoses continue to increase, it’s imperative that more measures like Bill 28 are put into effect to help protect the health and well-being of local communities.

If you are struggling with Opioid use and think it may be time to get help, contact a treatment provider today to explore your rehab options.

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Jessica Sherer

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  • Jessica Sherer earned her B.A. in English from Ashford University and has over eight years of copyediting experience in healthcare education. Dedicated to providing clear and useful information, she hopes her work will help to support those affected by addiction.

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