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Big Island Substance Abuse Council installs 2 new Narcan vending machines in Hilo

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The Big Island Substance Abuse Council installed two new vending machines in Hilo offering Narcan, a lifesaving medication for opioid overdoses.

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council has installed two new Narcan vending machines in Hilo. (Photo courtesy of the Big Island Substance Abuse Council)

The machines are operational 24/7 and located outside the:

  • Hulihia Ke Ola Detox Clinic, 41 Hōkū St.
  • Outpatient Facility/Wellness Center, 297 Waiānuenue Ave.

“These types of vending machines are rare but sorely needed on Hawaiʻi Island,” said Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita, chief executive officer of the Big Island Substance Abuse Council. “The frightening reality is that Hawaiʻi Island averages one overdose death every 8 days. [The Big Island Substance Abuse Council] is taking action and making Narcan available to anyone who needs it for free.”

The installation of the new vending machines is the result of a collaboration between the council, Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force, Hawaiʻi Health & Harm Reduction Center and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health Adult Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Abuse divisions.


Narcan is safe and easy to use, and the vending machines make the medication free and easy to access.

The medication is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks opiate receptors. When administered, it can reverse an overdose and keep that person alive until first responders arrive.

Narcan will not harm someone who is not overdosing on an opioid, but if they are, it can be the difference between life and death.

One of two new Narcan vending machines installed in Hilo by the Big Island Substance Abuse Council. (Screenshot from video)

“There is an unfortunate stigma to addiction, overdose and mental health issues, especially in small communities like Hilo,” said Wally Lau, co-lead for the Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force. “With these vending machines out in the open and easily accessible, we’re building pilina, or relationships, that we know we need to make a long-lasting impact.”

The Hawaiʻi Health & Harm Reduction Center has been at the forefront of helping operationalize Narcan vending machines statewide.

Heather Lusk, the center’s executive director, said that every 28 hours, there is an overdose in the islands. Naloxone can only save lives if people have access, and the Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force is at the forefront of getting the medication into the Big Island community.


Lahela Kruse, clinical director at the Big Island Substance Abuse Council, emphasized meeting people where they are, such as safely providing harm reduction resources outside the island’s only detox clinic.

“This is about putting resources around people clearly in need of harm reduction,” said Kruse. “It’s also a signal to our community and government partners that more needs to be done to help us make these critical materials available for free over time.”

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