Opioid overdoses have reached a crisis level in Anne Arundel county. They occur in every zip code and in every income bracket.
Fortunately, many people who could have been lost to overdose have been given a second chance because someone—whether a first responder, family member, friend or bystander—was able to administer Narcan.
Naloxone (aka Narcan) is a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and can prevent death. Naloxone was administered in over 80 percent of all opioid overdoses that Anne Arundel County and City of Annapolis police have responded to since 2017. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health recognized early on that there was the potential to save lives if naloxone was readily available to trained community members. In 2014 the department began offering community training on the use of intranasal naloxone, Since the training started, more than 6,000 naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the county.
According to statistics provided by the Anne Arundel County Police Department Overdose Line, from January 2017 to May 14, 2019, there were 2,013 opioid-related overdoses in Anne Arundel County in which Narcan was administered. 214 of those were administered by a family member or friend, and 58 by a bystander.
According to the Department of Health’s overdose response coordinator, Jasmine Pierce, the naloxone training prepares participants to respond effectively to an opioid overdose emergency: “An opioid overdose can be life-threatening and requires immediate emergency attention,” she says. “Recognizing the signs of opioid overdose is essential for saving lives. This training consists of defining what an opioid is; what naloxone is; how to identify signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose; and when to administer naloxone.”
Through demonstrations, participants learn the five steps for responding to an opioid overdose, and are also instructed about Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law, which protects those who assist others in need of medical assistance in a drug or alcohol related emergency from criminal prosecution.
Naloxone is available at local pharmacies without a prescription. There is currently a statewide naloxone standing order that allows all Maryland-licensed pharmacists to dispense naloxone to anyone who may be at risk for opioid overdose or is in a position to assist someone believed to be experiencing an opioid overdose.
Those who are interested in registering for naloxone training can find information on the Department of Health’s website, aahealth.org/events/oort, or on its Facebook page, facebook.com/aahealth. Community training sessions are free and typically scheduled in high risk areas where opioid overdoses are more prevalent.
Pierce encourages groups to host a class, noting they can be scheduled at any local business or organization (for instance schools, churches, treatment centers, government organizations) that may want to have its employees or members trained.
Dr. Judy Yu, dentist and mother of a teenage son, recently hosted a naloxone class at her practice for local members of the community, the NAACCC Health/Wellness Committee, and her Dental FX team in Pasadena. “Naloxone Training is imperative during opioid abuse epidemic,” she says.
The training is also for anyone who works with the public, and it is recommended for treatment, recovery and transitional housing staff. To register and for more information, call the Naloxone Training Line at 410-222-1937, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.