Battling The Opioid Epidemic With Narcan Giveaways

Dec 5, 2018

Credit By Intropin - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9949308

The opioid epidemic has become such a problem, many communities are offering for free the antidote that's administered when someone overdoses.  

One of these giveaways is set for December 14 at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln. 

Kits containing Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, will be offered for free.

"(Naloxone's) nickname on the street is the Lazarus drug because it brings people back from the dead,"said Chris Schaffner, a community outreach organizer with the Human Service Center in Peoria.  His organization obtained a grant through the Jolt Foundation to purchase the kits.  Schaffner said an opioid overdose is a respiratory problem in that it can slow down breathing and eventually stop it.  Naloxone can reverse that effect.

"It's effective if we get it to people in enough time," he said.  That's the idea behind the giveaways.  

"Currently, there's just not enough treatment available...so we've got to keep them alive long enough for them to get into treatment," he said.  "Often, there's a stigma surrounding substance use that says if you use drugs, you deserve whatever happens to you.  Just because someone chooses to use drugs doesn't mean we should deny them health care or a chance at life."

He added the idea of going "cold turkey" is outdatecd when it comes to opioids.  He said the synthetic drugs are too powerful more intense medical care is needed to get over an addiction.

The U.S. averages about 200 overdose deaths per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Schaffner said the kit giveaways need no prescription.  Still, not everyone can be in Lincoln on December 14.  Schaffner said anyone who needs assistance or wishes to learn more can contact him at 309-282-1086 or at hsc.peoria.org.