A potentially lifesaving drug that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose will be available for free next week at a local outpatient recovery center.
Clear Recovery of Cache Valley is hosting a naloxone training session and rescue kit giveaway from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at its offices at 277 N. Spring Creek Parkway in Providence. Program Director Melanie Rust said the rescue kits were donated to Clear Recovery by the Salt Lake City nonprofit Utah Naloxone.
The rescue kits contain two syringes and two small vials of naloxone. In the case of an overdose, Rust said, the drug should be injected directly into muscle, like the thigh or arm, and can be injected over clothing. There’s no need to worry about air bubbles because the drug is not injected into veins.
Identifying someone who is overdosing can be difficult, but Rust said the signs often include blue lips and being unresponsive.
Even if the individual is not overdosing on an opiate, however, she said injecting naloxone won’t cause any harm.
“There’s like almost zero risk, and I think that’s a concern for somebody like, ‘What if I do it wrong?’” Rust said.
After the first injection, Rust said the drug takes about one or two minutes to act. The individual should start moving. If not, she said it’s time to administer the second dose. But the rescue kits are only intended to be a temporary solution.
“This is not something where you just take care of an overdose at home and you don’t get other treatment,” Rust said. “It’s something in the meantime until someone can get there.”
The naloxone in the rescue kits is not as strong as naloxone used in the emergency room, and it only blocks opiate receptors for about 20 minutes, Rust said, so it’s important to immediately call 911 and get help.
Mike Hlavaty, marketing and business development director for Clear Recovery of Cache Valley, said the naloxone rescue kits are easy to use and easy to administer.
“If we get these out in the community, it will literally save lives,” he said.
He said Clear Recovery is an intensive outpatient center that provides group therapy, individual sessions and access to therapists, medical doctors and physician’s assistants.
“One of the things that really stands out is we get it,” Hlavaty said. “I’ve had a needle in my arm. I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to really, sincerely want to die. And so do most of the people who work here.”
Even if no one ends up using the naloxone rescue kits, Rust said the training sessions and education can help families or friends start a conversation with loved ones who may be addicted to opiates. Also, she said it’s important for people to not be afraid to call 911.
“People die because they’re too afraid of what will happen if they get law enforcement involved or the paramedics, so this is just maybe another safeguard,” Rust said.