Narcan available at Doughety Health Department to save lives during holidays

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Dec. 20—ALBANY — The Southwest Health District wants residents to have a safe holiday season, including those whose activities may include the use of opiates.

The agency is upping this week its distribution of Naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, that can save the life of an individual who has an overdose.

"We are asking that people be safe this holiday season, and not be alone if they are using drugs that could potentially cause an overdose," the health district said in a Monday news release. "Have Narcan readily available in case of an emergency. We also want individuals to not be afraid to call 911 for help."

The agency distributes Narcan, which is administered through the nose to unresponsive overdose victims, to anyone 18 and older at no cost from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. each Wednesday at the Dougherty County Health Department. This week, the schedules has been expanded to 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Narcan is a lifesaver, Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services Director Sam Allen said, but it is vital that the person assisting an overdose victim calls for medical assistance even if the victim is revived.

The overdose victim could have breathing issues, he said during a Monday telephone interview. And, with the potent drugs out on the street these days, a single dose is sometimes not sufficient to fully revive the victim.

A revived person also can become combative, he said.

"They just spent a substantial amount of money to get high," he said. "You've taken that high away from them. Many paramedics have been assaulted.

"What we're seeing now, it sometimes takes more than one dose."

The key thing is that the victim needs encouragement to seek treatment, help that is available from medical staff both with the ambulance service and the hospital, Allen said.

"That's one of the things we work very closely with the patient," he said. "We tell them how dangerous this substance is."

Individuals who call for assistance and direct first responders to the site of an overdose are usually protected by the state's amnesty law, the director said.

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