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NC Harm Reduction’s Community Based Naloxone Program Reverses its 400th Overdose in North Carolina

On April 2, 2015, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths, received a report of its 400th drug overdose reversal using the opioid antagonist, naloxone.

Often described as a “miracle drug” that brings people back from the brink of death, naloxone is a medication that reverses overdose from opioids such as heroin, methadone and prescription painkillers. Opioids are responsible for the majority of deaths from drug overdose in North Carolina each year.

Since August 1, 2013, NCHRC has distributed over 8800 overdose prevention kits containing naloxone and administration supplies to people at risk for drug overdose and their loved ones. The people saved include active drug users, teens and young adults saved by a parent or friend, parents saved by a young adult, and one infant. The majority of the overdoses occurred in Buncombe (101), Davidson (13), Forsyth (24), Guilford (145), Mecklenburg (29) and New Hanover (13) counties. A full list of reversals by county is available here.

Additionally, law enforcement departments across the state are equipping their officers and deputies with naloxone and training them on how to respond to opioid overdose. Since January 2015 police officers have reversed 6 overdoses with naloxone – 2 from the Carrboro Police Department and 4 from the Greenville Police Department. Fayetteville Police Department is the most recent to equip officer with naloxone. They trained on Friday, March 27th.
“Saving lives is what we are all about,” says Chief Harold Medlock, Fayetteville Police Department. “Whether through the traditional sense of policing and preventing violent crime or keeping people from dying as a result of overdoses, [saving lives] is our responsibility and obligation as police officers.”

NCHRC distributes naloxone through a network of staff, consultants and volunteers across the state. Most have personal stories of loved ones lost from drug overdose and a strong commitment to save lives.

“My story is the same story as millions of others who are going through life with a family member who uses drugs,” says Mary Piepenbrink, a nurse and naloxone distributor in Wilmington. “Sometimes you feel like there is so little you can do to help the person, but with naloxone you can do something. It’s safe and legal and you can use it to save a life.”

“I am so grateful to be a part of such an important program,” says Louise Vincent, a Greensboro distributor. “People call me constantly to tell me how they were able to save a friend with naloxone!”

“Four hundred more people are alive today because of our naloxone distribution efforts,” says Robert Childs, Executive Director of the NC Harm Reduction Coalition. “In the future we hope to see drug overdose fatalities decline statewide as a result of naloxone programs that bring education, training, and resources to people and families who need hope.”

For more information on overdose prevention training or how to receive a naloxone kit, visit http://www.nchrc.org/program-and-services/overdose-prevention-project/

To see a full breakdown of drug overdose reversal locations, go to:
http://www.nchrc.org/programs-and-services/nc-od-reversals/