Lawrence M. Walsh
The United States Surgeon General last Thursday issued a statement urging more Americans to carry naloxone, a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose.
In a press release, Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams acknowledged the dramatic increase of opioid overdose and the record number of people affected with substance use disorder, estimated at 2.1 million nationwide. He said more individuals, including family, friends and those who are personally at risk for an opioid overdose, should also keep the drug on hand.
“Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose – that’s one person every 12.5 minutes,” said Surgeon General Adams. “It is time to make sure more people have access to this lifesaving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home.”
Locally, this life-saving training will be offered at the seventh annual Hero Helps Community Summit on May 11 at the Edward Hospital Athletic and Event Center in Romeoville. All participants in this training will receive a box of Narcan containing two doses.
Will County has been a leader in training family members of opioid users and other bystanders on the delivery of naloxone. Through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and under the direction of Will County Executive Larry Walsh, the Office of Substance Use Initiatives was created. As one of these initiatives, Dr. Kathleen Burke has been working to train organizations across the county how to administer this powerful antidote.
“With the leadership of Executive Walsh, we have been focused on the opioid epidemic for seven years,” Burke said. “We began with raising community awareness about the problem, training our first responders across the county, and are now offering naloxone training to everyone to save lives.”
Burke added, “There is still much more work to be done to stop the opioid epidemic in Will County. One urgent priority is increasing access to treatment, regardless of their insurance coverage.”
Burke said she hopes this edict from the Surgeon General’s office will encourage more people to become trained on naloxone. Anyone interested in hosting a training session can contact Dr. Burke. All training participants receive two doses of Narcan. Narcan can also be purchased at local pharmacy. Medicaid and most insurance companies will cover the cost of the Narcan.
For more information on Narcan training or other Will County initiatives, visit the website: www.willcountyillinois.com/sui.