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Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Indiana alliance combats substance abuse through Narcan awareness campaign

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The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, Ind., is wrapping up a month-long series of events to educate residents about the life-saving effects of Narcan, a medicine used for the treatment of an opioid overdose emergency.

Narcan, or the generic drug naloxone, is an opioid reversal agent that can quickly counteract the effects of opioids overdoses, such as depressed breathing, slowed heartbeat and falling blood pressure.

During “Narcan November,” the Alliance focused on getting Narcan into the hands of those who need it, while hosting events that help individuals identify when an opioid overdose is happening and how to administer Narcan to stop the overdose.

ASAP, which focuses on establishing system-wide solutions to substance misuse and substance use disorders, provided Narcan for free from its Columbus, Ind., offices. The organization also held virtual training sessions on its Facebook page. On Nov. 24, the group hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on the impact that Narcan has had on the Columbus community.

“The goal … is to educate the community on what NARCAN is, where it is available, and above all else, that Narcan saves lives,” said Matthew Neville, ASAP director of operations.

The organization also demonstrates how to use Narcan on its website and distributes the drug for free to those who ask for it.

“ASAP Hub has both the intravenous and nasal Narcan on property, and taking to community events as well as making it available to the general public.  We are a resource where those who are still suffering, and community members, can receive Narcan anonymously and without judgment,” the organization said on its website.

ASAP advocates keeping a Narcan supply in a first-aid kit, just like one would keep bandages.

“In every first-aid kit in America, next to the gauze, Band-Aids, and ibuprofen, there should be naloxone. Sold either as a nasal spray or as an easy injectable similar to an EpiPen, naloxone can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose,” ASAP said on its Facebook page.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there were 1,104 drug overdose deaths in Indiana in 2018. While prescription opioid-involved deaths fell from 425 in 2017 to 370 in 2018, deaths involving synthetic opioids or heroin stayed relatively high. There were 713 deaths involving synthetic opioids, and 311 involving heroin.

Through an order with the Indiana Department of Health, anyone can get Narcan without a prescription, the Alliance said.

“Addiction should not be a death sentence. Naloxone can be the difference between life and death. Making naloxone available and providing education on how to intervene in case of an overdose saves lives,” the organization wrote. “The Columbus Police Department and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to doing everything in their power to preserve life, including using naloxone.”

Although the drug is not a replacement for emergency treatment, Narcan can reverse the effects of opioids within 2 to 5 minutes, the Alliance said. The organization also advised that anyone given Narcan should remain attended to until emergency personnel arrive and the overdose victim is taken to the hospital for care.