Everyday Heroes In California Save Lives with Naloxone
Recently, a new law was added to the California books that requires public schools to keep a steady supply of Narcan, also known as Naloxone, in their emergency supplies. The opioid overdose reversal drug has become a vital public health tool as the drug supply has been inundated with fentanyl. However, schools aren’t the only way that Narcan has saved lives. People who don’t use opioids but live in California have begun to take the harm-reducing measure into their own hands. Several community members spoke recently to the LA Times to describe how they have helped save lives by carrying it on them when they’re out in their communities.
What Is Naloxone, And How Can You Carry It?
Naloxone, known chiefly by its brand name, Narcan, is an opioid-overdose reversal tool approved by the FDA. People who want to carry Naloxone on hand or keep it in their homes face few barriers thanks to California legislation.
The Department of Health Services in your county will be able to distribute fentanyl to people who want to carry it. LA County has made it a mission to hand out 50,000 doses in a year, including people living in encampments uniquely positioned to save drug-using peers.
People who don’t use drugs are still often in a position to save lives. Family members often come across an unconscious relative and try to administer CPR. Naloxone is the only thing that can reverse the effects of an overdose. Many parents and spouses of addicted persons now keep Naloxone in their homes in case of emergency.
Fentanyl Is a Public Health Emergency
Fentanyl has caused an uptick in deaths for Californians in the past three years. It's been found as an additive in almost every type of street drug. In 2021, 625 people died of an overdose in San Francisco, an uptick of 41%. So many people in the community see carrying Narcan as a way to help others stay alive long enough to find recovery. EMTs, people in recovery from addiction, and other empathetic people have revived overdose victims and helped them stay alive.
Narcan is just one tool to help fight the fentanyl epidemic. However, it’s a powerful one – saving a life is a priceless task. Once a person has been revived, they still need medical attention. Most likely, they will be given drug treatment options when in the ER. Some of them will take the chance and decide to get sober. Others will take a little longer.
Treatment centers and sober living homes in California stock Narcan as a preventative measure.
When a person is still alive and breathing, the chance for recovery is always there.
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The new face of addiction is no longer the cliche brown bag holding homeless adult. Its in the suburbs, in college forms and in the comfort of a family home. As the stigma of substance use disorders begins to be a part of the vocabulary of community, the shock of overdoses will continue to cause intimidation and fear from agencies towards an education and preventive task. Cities such as New York seem to be leading the way in Narcan training (naloxone), placing power in non medical and lay responders to avoid overdoses all together. The shift from finding the fault to understanding the nature is the big first step.