More than 100 lives have been saved this year by the Arkansas Naloxone Project, which provides first responders naloxone toolkits to reverse an opioid overdose. Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane said that many of the 102 lives saved this year are attending substance abuse treatment facilities.
“This program receives some scrutiny at times from those that do not have an understanding of the issues at hand. Some feel that these people are unworthy of being saved,” Lane said. “It is important to understand that – If they are alive, there is a chance of recovery. We have met several of these saved individuals, and members of their family, and found that they are now in the process of going through recovery treatment because of these events.”
He added, “We hope that this project will reduce our fatality deaths during this epidemic, and help those with a substance abuse disorder a path towards recovery.”
To date 3,300 Narcan (naloxone) toolkits have been distributed to first responder agencies throughout the state, and each first responder must complete a naloxone training class. Among the items contained in a Narcan kit are two Naloxone nasal sprays, an opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of an opioid induced overdose. The 3,300 Narcan kits were provided by the Criminal Justice Institute through a grant provided by the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas.
“Our goal is to get the life-saving naloxone kits in the hands of all first responders in the state, which includes them completing a training program,” Lane said. “In the near future, we also want to distribute naloxone kits to various people in society. When a life is saved with naloxone, there is hope for recovery.”
Though it should be used in an emergency situation (a suspected opioid overdose), Naloxone has no effect on non-opioid overdoses. Naloxone is available for purchase at some pharmacies in Arkansas.
To reduce the morbidity and mortality of opioid overdoses in Arkansas, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has a standing order [Arkansas Code § 17-92- 101(16)] allowing Arkansas-licensed pharmacists to initiate naloxone therapy including ordering, dispensing and/or administering naloxone, along with any necessary supplies for administration, to eligible persons who are at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, or who are family members, friends, or others who are in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose.
Arkansas is 1 of 40 states exercising the Good Samaritan Overdose Immunity Laws, which encourages people to seek out medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered. These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention. For more information: http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/drug-overdose-immunity-good-samaritan-laws.aspx.