Coalition staff trained on life-saving antidote for opioid overdose victims
Over the past few years, opioid addiction has rapidly become a deadly threat around the country and in New Jersey. Growth in opioid addiction, including prescription pain medications and heroin, have made deadly overdoses have become all too common, leaving health care providers and policymakers searching for solutions.
While long-term efforts to reduce mass opioid addiction are ongoing, one treatment has been shown to save the lives of those experiencing an overdose. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a medication that can counter the effects of an overdose and help an overdose victim breathe normally.
In October, Camden Coalition staff received training from Urban Treatment Associates to learn how to administer Naloxone in the event of an overdose. Clinical and non-clinical staff learned how to administer an intra-nasal form of the drug and how to save the life of an opioid overdose victim. All training participants left the training with a kit that included four doses of Naloxone, which can be taken into the community as a precaution for patients or other individuals.
“Given the high rates of opiate use across the country, we all could come across this in our professional and personal lives,” said Laura Buckley, the Coalition’s Social Work Manager. “The training means we have the ability to safely intervene and perhaps save a life.”
While not a cure for opioid addiction, Naloxone is a harm-reduction tool. A part of the Coalition’s care philosophy, harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences of various human behaviors, legal and illegal, especially those associated with drug use.
The intra-nasal form of Naloxone is administered through the nasal passage, like a flu mist vaccine, making it simple and safe for a bystander to apply it in an emergency. Because Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system, the medication has no effect if opioids are absent, meaning it does not do additional harm if a person is overdosing on another substance.
New Jersey lawmakers have made addressing opioid addiction a top priority, with over 20 bills currently under review in the state legislature aiming to address the pervasiveness of the deadly drug.