Overcoming opioids

Marquette County Cares, UP Coalition Network offering free Narcan next week

Narcan is pictured. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — The national opioid crisis is one that health officials have been seeking answers to for a long time.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 760,000 people have died from a drug overdose since 1999. Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid.

The DHHS also estimates that 10.1 million people ages 12 and older misused opioids in 2019, and emergency department visits for opioid overdoses in the U.S. rose 30% from July 2016 to September 2017.

Fortunately, there are ways to reverse an opioid overdose, such as naloxone.

Naloxone, more commonly known under the brand name Narcan, is a life-saving drug that reverses opioid overdose. According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition, Narcan acts as an “opioid antagonist” and counteracts life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. It can restore normal breathing into those who have breathing struggles from an overdose.

The drug only works if an individual has opioids in their system. It has no affect on the human body if opioids are absent.

We may not think of it in our daily lives, but opioid overdoses and addiction do occur locally as well. That’s why, next Tuesday, two local organizations are stepping up to distribute Narcan to those who may want it.

Marquette County Cares and the UP Coalition Network will be distributing Narcan from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marquette Commons on Tuesday, Aug. 31. A limited number of doses will be given out on a first come, first serve basis, and individuals can remain anonymous.

The event is being funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The distribution is also made possible through partnerships with New Points, Great Lakes Recovery Centers and Beyond the Save.

“Narcan can be a controversial topic, but it really shouldn’t be,” said Gery Shelafoe, certified prevention consultant and Communities That Care coach at NorthCare Network, in a news release. “Some people see having Narcan available as a way to enable drug users, but individuals using drugs are people that for whatever reason now have an addiction.

“Our goal is to keep them safe until hopefully one day they are ready for treatment and recovery. Narcan has also been used to revive people who accidentally overdose on their pain medication. Imagine grandma who forgot she took her dose and taking another too soon. I know someone who keeps Narcan in the house because her boyfriend works in the medical field and there could be residue of fentanyl on his clothes that triggers an overdose. There are many reasons that Narcan should be widely available.”

Narcan can be a great tool to keep around the house. According to the news release, one of the first cases of Narcan use in Michigan was on a child who accidentally ingested opioids. Marquette County Cares and the UP Coalition Network say anyone with an opioid prescription should keep Narcan around and make sure friends and family know the signs of an overdose.

Does the drug work? Absolutely, according statistics provided by www.drugabuse.gov. Opioid overdose deaths were decreased by 11% without increasing opioid use after a naloxone distribution program was implemented in 19 counties in Massachusetts.

A national study showed that opioid overdose deaths decreased by 14% in certain states after those states enacted naloxone access laws.

For more information about Marquette County Cares and the UP Coalition Network, visit www.upctc.com/marquette.

If you’re battling addiction and are seeking help, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.


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