Free Narcan Program Drops Opioid Overdose Death Rate 31 Percent in Ohio County
Thank goodness for some good news among all the bad. We’re currently experiencing what’s being called the United States’ worst public health crisis in the new millennium. As the crisis has lurched forward from its launching point in the late ’90s, thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost as a result in the worst drug epidemic on record. News broadcasts regularly tell the tale of the damage drugs is causing our society. Mass overdoses, fentanyl everywhere, new states fully legalizing pot every year, and methamphetamine abuse spreading coast to coast are just some of the latest headlines from the last year or two. And while the problem continues to deepen and more addicts are born every day, it’s not very often that we get any sort of good news, but today, we have a little bit of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
This past October, a Narcan distribution collaborative was created in Hamilton County, Ohio in order to put as much of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug in as many hands as possible in the public. The more people that have access to and carry Narcan, the better, since they can immediately respond during an emergency situation. About 115 people die every day from opioid overdoses in the U.S. and Hamilton County has taken measures to bring this number down.
Since the creation of the Narcan distribution program, overdose deaths have dropped by 31 % and ER visits for overdoses have dropped by another 37%. The distribution program was created, in part, by Dr. Shawn Ryan who says that 75% of his patients who are addicted to opioids have been brought back to life by Narcan. He said, “It’s a potential that almost none of those people would have made it to treatment if they hadn’t had Narcan available.”
Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, which turns off the effects of opioids. Most states have made Narcan available over-the-counter with no prescription needed and no questions asked. Some pharmacies will additionally give you a quick tutorial on how to effectively use and administer the drug and other emergency protocols to enact during a crisis situation.
I think that making Narcan not only free but widely distributed is one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a long time. Most pharmacies will sell Narcan for a cost, but making it free absolutely removes any excuse as to why every single person in our society wouldn’t carry it with them, just in case. I personally carry Narcan wherever I go because if I’m grocery shopping and someone falls out in the next aisle over, at least I’ll be carrying a drug that could potentially save their life and prevent them from succumbing to their addiction and tearing their family to shreds.
It’s important to remember though, that while Narcan may save a life in an overdose situation, it’s just an emergency handling. The ultimate handling is to get the individual real help and rehab, so they don’t overdosing again… and maybe the next time, there won’t be someone readily available with Narcan to revive them.
No family recovers from the loss of a child, no matter how old they are. I firmly believe that everyone needs to carry Narcan because if your son, daughter, mother, or father ever needs it, someone can be there to help.