Naloxone training frightens, inspires

HHS Opioid Infographic
Infographic courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
72,000 opioid-overdose deaths occurring each year. These numbers continue to climb as opioids infiltrate more and more neighborhoods each day.

BY Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, 20 university students learned how to save a life at the Collegiate Recovery Community’s second annual naloxone training. The event was an opportunity for students to learn about the opioid crisis and to receive instruction on how to administer Naloxone, an overdose reversal drug.

Naloxone is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose by restoring normal respiration. It comes in various forms, including over-the-counter nose sprays and auto-injectable devices. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there have been 26,000 overdose reversals using Naloxone from 1996 through 2014.

While the number of saves is high, it’s not nearly high enough to combat the 72,000 opioid-overdose deaths occurring each year. These numbers continue to climb as opioids infiltrate more and more neighborhoods each day.

Those who came to the workshop had different motivations for being there, but the overarching goal for every student was simple — they wanted to be prepared to save a life.

Diana Ramirez, a junior human services major, hopes to one day work in family services. That said, Ramirez suspects drug abuse will factor into her future line of work.

“I really wanted to get the training to do the Naloxone because I know it’s really important, and substance abuse is kind of a gray area for me, but adding this kind of training to my resume is really beneficial for my career,” Ramirez said .

Similarly, senior pre-med student Miranda Ward wants to prepare herself for medical crises as early as possible, including overdoses. For Ward, the training also carries a personal aspect, as her family has a history of addiction.

The training began with a screening of Netflix’s original documentary, “Heroin(e).” The documentary followed first responders and politicians in Huntington, W.Va., referred to as “The Overdose Capital of America” in the documentary.

The film chronicles Huntington’s emergency-services personnel, who respond to as many as 28 overdoses each day. The documentary put names to the thousands of lives lost each year. Statistics aside, the opioid crisis becomes so much more than just numbers on paper; it is heart-wrenching, human tale of grief and loss.

After the film, Dave Humes, the public policy coordinator at AtTAcK Addiction and a certified naloxone trainer, addressed the audience. AtTacK Addiction is a nonprofit that aims to provide awareness and treatment for addiction within Delaware. Humes, an addiction survivor himself, became involved with the nonprofit after losing his 24-year-old son to opioid addiction in May 2012.

Humes arrived at the university on Tuesday evening with more than just statistics of horrendous loss — he also brought a miracle: naloxone, and, more importantly, instructions on how to use it.

In the grand scheme of 96,000 deaths per year, a single training kit may seem inconsequential, but to focus on the individual lives that can be saved, it’s monumental.

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