Cal Poly Students and SLO County Partner to Develop Opioid Overdose Death Prevention App

Opioid overdose is a growing problem in the United States. According to the CDC, there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths across the country in 2019. 70% of those deaths involved prescription or synthetic opioids.

A group of Cal Poly students has partnered with San Luis Obispo County to develop an app aimed at preventing deaths from opioid overdoses.

The app is called Naloxone Now, named after a drug known to reverse opioid overdoses.

Community members can use the app to find the nearest location in SLO County to get naloxone or have it delivered for free. The app also offers opioid overdose response training that helps users learn how to administer naloxone and potentially save a life.

Reilly Salkowski is a Cal Poly student who participates in the university’s Digital Transformation Hub, or DxHub. She was the lead developer of the app and said that before working on this project, she had no idea there was even a cure for opioid overdoses.

Salkowski said she hopes the app will raise awareness.

“I really hope this will make these resources, especially naloxone, much more accessible to people,” Salkowski said. “Just getting that information out as far as possible, I guess, would really be my goal.”

The SLO County Department of Behavioral Health and the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition pitched the idea for the app to the DxHub as a way to address the local opioid epidemic.

According to the California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, the state recorded more than 5,500 opioid-related deaths in 2020. During the pandemic, opioid-related deaths increased by more than 30% nationwide.

In SLO County alone, the death toll more than doubled, from 21 in 2019 to 55 in 2020.

Salkowski said that although the app is localized for users in SLO County, its code is open source, so it can easily be extended for use in other areas.

“Anyone — any county — can just add resources specific to them,” Salkowski said. “Pretty much anyone can use the framework put together and adapt it to their needs.”

The Naloxone Now app is fully launched and accessible here.

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