‘It’s a big deal’: Local groups give Richmond restaurants and bars Naloxone training

The founder of the Free NaloxoneBike and with VCU’s Rams In Recovery, John Freyer, is working with a non-profit organization, Ben’s Friends, to fight the opioid
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 6:22 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Amid the opioid crisis, two Richmond groups are teaming up to save community lives by training bars and restaurants on administering Naloxone in an emergency.

The founder of the Free NaloxoneBike, John Freyer, is working with a non-profit organization, Ben’s Friends, to fight the opioid overdose epidemic in Richmond. They go to bars and restaurants to teach staff how to administer Naloxone and provide them with the drug.

“With the increase in fentanyl and a spike in overdoses, this is the one chance someone can make a huge difference and save a life. It’s a big deal,” said Jason Alley, the co-founder of the Richmond chapter of Ben’s Friends.

128 people in Richmond died from an overdose in the first half of 2021, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That’s why Freyer believes knowing how to give someone Naloxone is a critical skill properly.

“It’s a very, very easy and effective drug to use, and it reverses the effect of an overdose,” said Freyer.

Ben’s Friends is a non-profit that supports food service and beverage industry workers struggling with addiction or substance abuse. The Richmond chapter was started by Alley, who is six years into his recovery journey.

“I felt like if I needed something like this, there probably would be two or three other people who could use something like this as well,” said Alley.

According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services survey, the food and beverage service industry has one of the highest rates of drug and alcohol use in their workers.

“We know that this is real. We know that this is our people that’s being affected so the response is fantastic,” Alley said.

The Naloxone they use for training is free through the Richmond Henrico Health Department, which also offers to train you on how to use the medication.