Active Drug Users Save 100 Lives in NC From Drug Overdose
On July 2 2014, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths, received a report of its 100th drug overdose reversal using the opioid antagonist, naloxone.
Since August 1, 2013, NCHRC has distributed over 2648 overdose prevention kits containing naloxone and administration supplies to people at risk for drug overdose and their loved ones. Naloxone is a medication that reverses overdose from opioids such as heroin, methadone and prescription painkillers. Opioids are responsible for the majority of deaths from drug overdose in North Carolina each year.
Thanks to a new law passed in April 2013, the 911 Good Samaritan/Naloxone Access law, naloxone can now be distributed to the general public via standing orders from a medical provider. People at the scene of an overdose can use the kit to save the life of a friend or family member. Many law enforcement and fire departments are also looking into launching programs to equip first responders with naloxone. Deputies of the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office began carrying naloxone in May 2014.
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.
"I distribute naloxone because I lived for years with the fear and helplessness of having a loved one at risk for overdose,” says Loftin Wilson, a naloxone distributor in Durham. “Every time I give naloxone to a person living with that same fear and I see relief and hope in their eyes, it helps me to heal from that time in my life. I know that each of these 100 lives saved also means hundreds more not devastated by grief and loss."
In June, Trish of High Point gave naloxone to a woman who had overdosed in her son’s apartment. She also called 911, but it took 35 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
“The medics flat out told me if I hadn’t been there [with naloxone], she would have died,” says Trish. “It felt great to help her. Right now we could have been burying her, but instead she’s still alive.”
Lori Taylor, a nurse in Bladen county, sees overdose patients on a weekly basis. The hospital has seen 16 overdose deaths in the emergency room just this year, most from opioids.
“I try to save patients once they get to the hospital, but naloxone can save them before they get here,” says Lori. “As a person in long-term recovery from opiate addiction, I want others to have the same opportunity to recover that I had. For that to happen, they must remain alive to get treatment.”
Pastor James Sizemore distributes naloxone from Catalyst Community Church in Fayetteville. “Distributing Naloxone is not just a social responsibility, but also a spiritual responsibility,” he says. “God has given us this tool to preserve the lives of his children.”
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/