NC Harm Reduction Coalition's Community Naloxone Program Reverses its 3,000th Overdose

05/23/2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

CONTACT: Tessie Castillo

TEL:          (919) 809-7718

EMAIL:      tswopecastillo@gmail.com

 

 

NC Harm Reduction Coalition's Community Naloxone Program Reverses its 3,000th Overdose

 

 

 

On May 20, 2016, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths, received a report of its 3,000th drug overdose reversal using the opioid antagonist, naloxone. As of May 23, 2016, the total number of reversals stands at 3059. For a list of reversals by city click here.

 

Since August 1, 2013, NCHRC has distributed over 26,000 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.

 

Cecily Herring distributes naloxone in Wilmington, one of the areas hardest hit by opioid overdose. “Eight and a half years ago, naloxone gave me a second chance at life,” she says. “After being brought back from an intentional overdose, I am now a person in long term recovery…The recent rash of deaths by overdose in Wilmington is terrifying but the rate of reversals gives me hope. I've heard it shared in recovery meetings that "some must die so that others may live," somehow implying that sometimes the death of a loved one is the catalyst that encourages someone to get help. As for me, I tried dying...now I believe that it's my moral obligation to live in a manner that others may live.”

 

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.

 

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 law enforcement officers and deputies have reversed 80 overdoses with naloxone. Seventy-nine departments are now carrying in total. For a list of reversals by department, click here.

 

“I had the opportunity to talk with a 20 year old girl last week right after she awoke from a heroin overdose,” says Lt Michael Cardwell with the Winston Salem Police Department. Winston Salem has had 12 saves since they began carrying naloxone in September, the second largest number of reversals behind Fayetteville. “She had been on the streets for a few days on a heroin binge.  This incident seemed to be the breaking point for her to return home and begin a treatment program. She expressed appreciation for our naloxone program. At the very least, she is alive now and has the opportunity to make a change.”

 

The Hickory Police Department became the most recent department to start carrying naloxone. Deputy Chief Thurman Whisnant says, “In policing, our first and foremost mission is and always will be to protect life.  With the NC Harm Reduction Coalition providing the means for our department to receive the kits and training at no cost, it’s just the right thing to do.”

 

On May 12th, members of over 20 police departments as well as health departments, community groups and recovery groups met at the General Assembly in Raleigh for the 2016 Summit on Law Enforcement and Community Response to Heroin. Speakers and participants from all over the states discussed creative solutions to save lives and protect the public from opiate use and overdose, including naloxone distribution, syringe exchange programs, and law enforcement diversion programs. 

 

“North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition can only be as effective as those who have helped make it possible to save 3,000 lives in North Carolina,” says Diannee Carden Glenn, NCHRC Board President. “The staff, volunteers, outreach workers and peer support have worked tirelessly to distribute naloxone to those in need and to help pass life-saving laws through our North Carolina State Legislature.”

 

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/