Narcan has truly been a lifesaving drug for families of addicts.

 

The WashingtonPost writes

 January 7

Beth Schmidt always begins her opioid-awareness sessions by introducing her boy. At one such event, she motions toward his photos — the solemn baseball-team picture, his sweet, clean-cut middle school portrait, the cheek-to-cheek selfie of mother and son — as she tells a hushed audience of about a dozen how Sean fought and lost his battle with opioid addiction.

“He actually overdosed right here in Mount Airy at the Twin Arch Shopping Center,” she says, “in a parked car.” It was December 2013, two days after his 23rd birthday.

His death catapulted Schmidt, now 50, into a life she couldn’t have envisioned during her years as a “baseball mom, room mother and field-trip mom” to her three sons. A co-founder of Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, Schmidt travels the state advocating for opioid addiction prevention and treatment, and explaining how to use the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. Too late for her own son — but not for the loved ones of others.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d end up helping people save their own children from dying by overdose,” she says. “But as a grieving mom, I don’t want anyone else to have to walk in my shoes.”

The opioid epidemic continues its deadly march, devastating families and decimating communities at an astounding rate. According to the Maryland health department, there were 1,029 opioid-related deaths from January through June 2017, compared with 873 for the same period in 2016.

Naloxone is increasingly seen as the first line of defense in an opioid overdose. When administered within the first minutes — even up to an hour or more — of a potentially deadly overdose, it can resuscitate a victim before their fate is sealed.

Naloxone — also known by its most common brand-name version, Narcan — was once only in the purview of first responders. But enhancements in law and policy are increasing access to the drug, placing it more easily into the hands of anyone who wants it in a “remarkably rapid progression,” according to Corey Davis, deputy director of the Network for Public Health Law.

Maryland and Virginia allow pharmacies to dispense the drug to anyone who asks, no prescription or training necessary. In those states and most others, walk into a CVS, Rite Aid or other pharmacy, ask and receive.

To addiction-awareness advocates, such easy access signifies lives reclaimed. It’s “not just people in active addiction who should have Narcan,” said Joe Adams, the medical director of an opioid-treatment program in Baltimore, “It’s anybody with teenagers or young adults in their household — anybody who’s prescribed or knows someone who’s taking prescription opiates. I’ve heard from plenty of people who were glad to have had it because they were able to save someone’s life. And I’ve heard from plenty of people who wish they’d had it.”

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