Press Release: Miracle Drug, Naloxone, Saves 1500 Lives in North Carolina

12/10/2015

On December 4, 2015, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths, received a report of its 1500th community based drug overdose reversal using the opioid antagonist, naloxone. As of December 7, 2015, the total number of reversals stands at 1518.

 

Since August 1, 2013, NCHRC has distributed over 19,100 overdose prevention kits containing naloxone, a medicine that reverses opioid drug overdose, and administration supplies to people at risk for drug overdose and their loved ones. Naloxone is a safe, effective medication that temporarily blocks the effects of opioids in the brain long enough to restore breathing in a person experiencing respiratory failure from an opioid overdose.

 

Michael Butler of Durham carries a vial of naloxone with him at all times and has used it to save several people. “Recently I was hanging around Fayetteville Street in a place they call ‘The Hole’ when I saw a young woman overdose,” he says. “She dropped to her knees and started turning blue, so I gave her a shot of naloxone, did CPR, and gave her another shot. She woke up cold and shaking and confused, but once I explained that I saved her life, she hugged me and said thank you. I’m proud of passing around naloxone because it saves lives.”

 

The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition began offering naloxone along with overdose prevention training to community members after the passage of the 911 Good Samaritan law in North Carolina. The 911 Good Samaritan law encourages people to seek medical help for an overdose by offering limited immunity for some drug, alcohol, and probation/parole violation offenses. It also grants civil and criminal immunity to anyone who administers naloxone in good faith and allows community-based organizations to distribute naloxone through a special prescription (a standing order) from a medical provider.

 

“NCHRC staff, consultants and volunteers work across the state to make sure that naloxone is available to anyone with a loved one who uses opioids,” says Robert Childs, NCHRC Executive Director. “We have law enforcement, pharmacists, health care providers, treatment centers and people who use drugs coming together to save lives.”

 

Law enforcement departments across the state are equipping their officers and deputies with naloxone and training them on how to respond to opioid overdose. Since January 2015 police officers have reversed 26 overdoses with naloxone – 3 from Pitt County Sheriff, 1 from Guilford County Sheriff, 1 from Henderson County Sheriff, 10 from the Fayetteville Police Department, 1 from Cramerton Police Department, 2 from the Carrboro Police Department, 4 from the Greenville Police Department and 4 from Winston Salem Police Department. Just this week, Highlands Police Department, Town of Duck Police Department, Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Brunswick County Sheriffs Office and Nags Head Police Department all started carrying naloxone. Forty-one departments are now carrying in total.

 

“We’re exited to partner with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition to get naloxone kits to each officer,” says Lt Perry Hale of the Town of Nags Head Police Department, whose officers were trained on naloxone prevention December 1st and 2nd. “We look forward to providing this additional service to the citizens and visitors of our town in the event of an overdose.” 

 

NCHRC distributes naloxone through a network of staff, consultants and volunteers across the state. Most have personal stories of loved ones lost from drug overdose and a strong commitment to save lives.

 

“My life was once caught up in the struggle against addiction,” says Steve Daniels, naloxone distributor in Winston Salem, NC. “But I made it out and am now dedicating the remainder of my days to helping other people get out too. Naloxone is the tool that gives people a second chance.”

 

For more information on overdose prevention training or how to receive a naloxone kit, visit http://www.nchrc.org/program-and-services/overdose-prevention-project/

 

To see a full breakdown of drug overdose reversal locations, go to:

http://www.nchrc.org/programs-and-services/nc-od-reversals/

 

For information on law enforcement departments that carry naloxone, visit:

http://www.nchrc.org/law-enforcement/us-law-enforcement-who-carry-naloxone/