Free Naloxone Clinic Successful, But More Work Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis

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“When Narcan or Naloxone goes into the system, it immediately reverses the effect, and that is a temporary reversal,” Dr. David Hicks said. “But, you go from a person who is completely unresponsive, and in my experience, they were immediately alert. They were responsive, but were in an agitated, ‘what is going on?’ state. You have somebody who was not responding at all, someone who was shallow breathing, and once that medicine hits their system, that patient was immediately alert and talking.”

For the past two years, the Jefferson County Department of Health has offered a free Naloxone clinic to those addicted to opioids as well as someone who could assist someone at risk of an overdose. People are taught how to administer the medicine as well as being given a free kit. Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson added that while the kits do save lives, more work has to be done to combat the overall opioid crisis.

“We are putting out fires right now,” Dr. Wilson said. “We need to prevent the fires from starting in the first place. We have been seeing over 200 opioid deaths a year in Jefferson County–huge number. If we can get these into the right hands, we can save a lot of lives. Some people continue to use drugs. They have more than one overdose. We want to keep people alive long enough to get them into treatment for substance abuse. We know it has been successful in that some lives have been saved. We have a lot more work to do in terms of addressing the overall epidemic of opioid addiction, and that involves prevention and treatment for addiction and not just rescuing people from overdose.”

Wilson said if someone is suffering from an opioid overdose, the steps to follow are:

  • Call 911
  • Begin rescue breathing
  • Follow the Narcan instructions

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