Narcan to be made available to families

LISBON — It is happening more frequently — a relative is found nearly unconscious, succumbing to the effects of an opioid overdose. What do you do?

In the coming weeks family members of those struggling with an opioid addiction will be able to administer the antidote to their loved ones while they wait for professional help to arrive.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, will be made available to county residents through the Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) program coming to the county on Nov. 15.

The statewide program is being held in other counties as well, and will provide kits that include two doses of Narcan to those who participate.

The program is being offered locally through the Family Recovery Center in Lisbon, which has joined together with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Columbiana County Health Department.

The program is focused on opioid overdose reversal through training and education, as well as providing the Narcan, which is generally used by first responders and police.

Narcan’s only purpose is to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses to avoid death and has no effect on anyone not using the drug. The antidote does not treat drug addiction and has no street value.

The drug is provided in the form of a nasal spray and restores breathing within two to eight minutes of being administered, the FRC said in a press release announcing the program.

According to the ODH website, there were 4,050 unintentional drug overdoses deaths across the state last year — a 32.8 percent increase compared to 2015.

Of the 4,050 deaths, more than 58 percent involved fentanyl and related drugs, the ODH said. Fentanyl is significantly stronger than heroin and has been considered a major factor in the rise in opioid deaths.

The ODH said in the release that the program training has resulted in less drug use and syringe sharing, and an increase in recovery program participation.

The training takes about 30 minutes and the kits will be given out upon completion of the program.

The FRC is encouraging those with family members struggling with opiate addiction to get a kit for their household.

The program is also being offered to businesses, which are encouraged to send a designated employee for training to obtain a kit.

Tawnia Jenkins, Project DAWN coordinator for the FRC, said in the release that the program will also help county agencies that would like to have their staff trained.

“We will help them establish a service protocol that has to be signed off by their physician or FRC medical director, Karl Getzinger, M.D.,” she said.

Nov. 15 is the first time the training and kits will be available, with the program held at the FRC located at 964 N. Market St. in Lisbon. Training will take place from 6-8 p.m. Training will be held the same time on the first Friday of each month beginning in December.

The kits are being purchased with $36,000 provided by the county Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (MHRSB). That money will also cover staff time, advertising and promotion printing, the FRC said.

“Although the county does have access to some state funds for Project DAWN, the MHRSB dollars will help to ensure that everyone who wants Naloxone can obtain it as well as cover administrative costs,” Marcy Patton, executive director of the MHRSB said in the release.

She also said that the board’s primary goal in helping to fund the project is so that individuals with opioid use disorders have the opportunity to obtain treatment.

In addition, she said that access to Narcan helps prevent deaths among first responders or others who may accidentally come in contact with fentanyl or carfentanyl on the streets.

In May of this year a police officer in East Liverpool overdosed on fentanyl after accidentally getting a powder form of it on his shirt while responding to a drug call in the city.

The officer revived after having four doses of Narcan administered on him.

Patton said that the use of Narcan is beneficial, and that those who are skeptical should understand that it is hard to tell when a drug user is finally “ready” and amenable to treatment.

“When I worked as a counselor at the Family Recovery Center in the 1980s, some of the “greatest successes” were the people who had been through many rounds of previous treatment before they were finally able to attain sobriety and stay clean,” she said in the release.

Clubs, associations, and other organizations that would like a speaker to present the program can contact Tawnia Jenkins or Laura Martin at the FRC at 330-424-1468.