Overdose Kits are Comming
Narcan can be potential lifesaver for opiate users
By Thomas Gnau
DAYTON — In the war against heroin, there’s a new weapon. Thanks to a new state law, Ohioans are getting increased access to Naloxone or Narcan, a drug that temporarily kicks opiate users back to consciousness after an overdose. For residents like Lori Erion of New Carlisle, who has a family member struggling with heroin addiction, the drug is a potential lifesaver. “What’s happening is heroin is making its way into the lives and homes of people you would not have expected it to,” said Erion, who runs a group, Friends of Addicts, to support families wrestling with opiate addiction.
Starting Monday, kits with Naloxone will be available in Miami Valley Hospital’s downtown emergency room. Samaritan Behavioral Health’s Crisis Care is already giving families a kit that includes Naloxone, County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) agency will soon give families similar Naloxone/Narcan kits. Dayton police are also officers with Narcan kits, as allowed under the new law.
Lt. Joe Wiesman said officers are weary of finding overdosed addicts with a needle in their arm, their lips turning blue, and having no quick remedy. “There’s no doubt this will save a lot of lives,” said Wiesman, commander of the Dayton police narcotics bureau. Previously, only addicts could get Narcan. But that was often useless, said Andrea Hoff , director of community engagement and special initiatives for ADAMHS. Unconscious addicts suffering an overdose can’t administer the drug.
“We are in the midst of an epidemic of overdoses. And that includes all kinds of opiates,” Hoff said. “We’ve had 10 (deaths) in the last three weeks.” Narcan kits are not tied to any law enforcement effort — those who call for kits or information won’t be questioned by police.
The kits are free to Montgomery County residents and can be used after a 90-minute training session at Elizabeth Place. Interested county residents may call Crisis Care (937-443-0416) and ask for a DAWN — Deaths Avoided with Naloxone —kit. Naloxone/Narcan is a mist spray administered through the opiate user’s nose. “The person comes out of the overdose literally within two to four minutes,” Hoff said. “It’s not fun, because it automatically throws them into withdrawls.”
Once Narcan is administered, family members still need to call 911, Hoff and Erion emphasized. The drug is not long-lasting, and the user still must go to a hospital. The opiate’s side effects may soon return, perhaps returning the user to an overdose experience. “It’s bringing people back from ODs, and as soon as it’s offi cial, (our) plan is to distribute ADAMHS-funded Naloxone kits to friends, family members and others in a position to assist someone who is at risk of an overdose, “ said Ann Stevens, ADAMHS spokeswoman.
Narcan is slowly garnering national attention.Police in Anne Arundel County, Md., are carrying the drug, as are police in Medway, Mass. “Probably the one thing holding up all police departments is the funding,” Hoff said. “How are they going to pay for it?” ADAMHS paid $130,000 for 459 kits. Wiesman wants to institute training on how to use the kits, and he is pushing for establishing a “central control mechanism” — a person or office responsible for tracking the drug’s distribution to police officers and emergency responders.
Contact this reporter at 937-225-2390
Public Information Coordinator Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services
409 E. Monument St. Suite 102
Dayton, OH 45402
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