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Transforming Old News Boxes into Lifelines: Naloxone Dispensaries in Minneapolis

A Creative Approach to Combatting Opioid Overdoses

In the Jordan neighborhood of North Minneapolis, a unique transformation has taken place: old Star Tribune newspaper boxes have been repurposed into naloxone dispensaries. These stations, easily recognizable by their white and red wrap, offer naloxone kits for reversing opioid overdoses and fentanyl testing strips for free. This initiative provides vital resources anonymously, ensuring that anyone can access them without fear of judgment or inquiry.

Expanding Access and Breaking Stigma

This initiative is spearheaded by community leaders like Jim Barrett, a certified peer recovery specialist, and supported by local organizations like the Jordan Area Community Council, led by Audua Pugh. Pugh, who has battled addiction herself, champions this cause, understanding the life-saving impact these dispensaries have in an area plagued by opioid abuse. Another box is strategically located inside East Side Neighborhood Services in northeast Minneapolis, indicating a community-wide effort to provide these essential services more broadly.

Overcoming Challenges and Building Community Trust

Despite some community concerns about attracting drug users, these boxes have proven their worth by allowing individuals to quickly get what they need and leave, minimizing congregation at dispensary sites. Challenges such as maintaining a steady supply of naloxone and ensuring the boxes are functional year-round due to weather concerns are real but are being addressed through partnerships and continuous community engagement. Over time, these efforts have fostered a more sustainable model of distribution and a growing trust in these life-saving resources.