The Urgency of Narcan Kits in Combating the Opioid Crisis in Douglas County
The opioid crisis has reached alarming levels, affecting communities across the country, including Douglas County. Substance Use Disorder (SUD), particularly opioid use disorder, has become a significant public health issue, leading to a rise in drug poisonings and overdose deaths.
In 2020, Kansas witnessed 255 opioid overdose deaths, accounting for more than half of all drug overdose deaths in the state. As the impact of this crisis continues to grow, it is essential to recognize the importance of having Narcan kits readily available to save lives and address this pressing concern effectively.
Understanding the Opioid Crisis
Opioid addiction is a complex mental disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior, making it difficult for them to control their use of opioids, alcohol, or prescription medications. Substance use disorders, particularly opioid and alcohol use disorders, may lead to devastating effects on individuals and their families, often leading to life-threatening situations.
The Role of Narcan Kits
In nearly 40% of overdose deaths, someone else was present, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Narcan, also known as naloxone, is a medication that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications—when given in time. When administered promptly, Narcan can revive an individual experiencing an opioid overdose, restoring their ability to breathe and giving them a chance to seek medical attention. Narcan is a critical tool in preventing unnecessary fatalities caused by opioid overdoses.
Accessibility and Empowerment
Many states have implemented programs that allow individuals to obtain Narcan without a prescription from pharmacies. Additionally, community organizations and harm reduction initiatives offer free Narcan training to teach individuals how to administer the medication effectively.
By having Narcan kits on hand, individuals can become capable of taking immediate action during an opioid overdose emergency. This empowerment not only saves lives but also reduces the stigma associated with opioid addiction. It sends a powerful message that addiction is a treatable medical condition, and everyone has a role to play in preventing overdose deaths.
Request a Free Narcan Kit
In Douglas County, individuals can obtain a free Narcan kit from DCCA (Developing Caring Communities Committed to Action). By taking advantage of this opportunity, community members can empower themselves to be to take immediate action during opioid overdose emergencies. The initiative not only saves lives but also works toward reducing the stigma surrounding opioid addiction, emphasizing the importance of accessible resources for those in need.
Getting Help: The Effectiveness of Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) has proven to be highly effective in treating opioid addiction. Medications like Suboxone, which contain buprenorphine and naloxone, can help individuals reduce their opioid use, manage cravings, and minimize withdrawal symptoms. When combined with behavioral counseling, MAT can increase the likelihood of treatment completion and ultimately, recovery from addiction.
Overcoming Barriers to Care
Despite the effectiveness of MAT and mental health services, several barriers hinder individuals from receiving the care they need. Uninsured and underinsured individuals, as well as communities of color, are more likely to face challenges in accessing mental health and substance use care. High treatment costs can also prevent individuals from seeking help.
Heartland Community Health Center offers Medicated Assisted Treatment as part of a whole-person approach to health care. Heartland accepts all patients regardless of income or insurance status. Services are available to those without health insurance on a sliding scale.
Combining Narcan kits with effective treatment options like Medication Assisted Treatment can significantly improve the outcomes for individuals struggling with opioid addiction. Together, with increased accessibility to Narcan kits and comprehensive health care, we can make progress in combating the opioid crisis and protecting the well-being of our communities.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact Heartland today.
Additional Substance Use Disorder Resources:
Signs of Overdose
Recognizing the signs of opioid overdose can save a life. Here are some things to look for:
Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
Falling asleep or losing consciousness
Slow, weak, or no breathing
Choking or gurgling sounds
Cold and/or clammy skin
Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)
What to do if you think someone is overdosing
It may be hard to tell whether a person is high or experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat it like an overdose—you could save a life.
Call 911 Immediately.*
Administer naloxone, if available.
Try to keep the person awake and breathing.
Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.
Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives.
*Most states have laws that may protect a person who is overdosing or the person who called for help from legal trouble.