Clinical Tool Leads to Overdose Rescues

People in Surry County who are in recovery from substance use disorder are using their own overdose kits to rescue others from opioid overdoses.

Recently, three people in Surry County anonymously reported using their naloxone overdose kits to rescue another person overdosing on opioids. The first report came to Michelle Mathis at Olive Branch Ministry, who tracks the kit usage for Partners Health Management. The caller used a kit on a loved one.

“It is about saving a life in that moment,” said one rescuer when asked about reporting the use of the kits. “I was very nervous about calling it in. I almost didn’t because we didn’t want anyone finding out. But I am doing better, and I’m not using, so I called it in.”

A second life was saved when someone the rescuer knew frantically knocked on their door asking for help with another individual overdosing in a car. The rescuer immediately knew what to look for, and upon finding an unresponsive person in the car, used naloxone to reverse the overdose. The rescuer was familiar with naloxone because it was sometimes kept where people would use opioids, but said, “a lot of users don’t know what naloxone is or how to get it.”

The third overdose rescue occurred when the person found an unresponsive friend known to use opioids. The rescuer had to use both doses of naloxone in the overdose kit to reverse the effects.

All three rescuers are still working through their recoveries and have had their kits replaced.

Daymark Recovery Services gave Partners Overdose Reversal Kits to everyone in their Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient services in Surry County with an opioid addiction assessment. These recipients, who are in various stages of recovery, are at a higher risk of overdose if they use opioids again because their tolerance is lowered from not using. By giving these people naloxone, they have a method to reverse an overdose should they use again and have an adverse effect.

Estimated 500 Overdose Reversal Kits containing 1000 doses of Naloxone HCl have been given out since January of 2017.

“I cannot express to you how grateful we are to be able to provide this life-saving tool to our patients and their families,” said Billy R. West, Jr., Daymark Recovery Center President and CEO. “At a time when there is no Medicaid expansion and cuts to state dollars are happening, Partners should be commended for fiscally supporting this life-saving effort.”

NARCAN®, is a safe, non-toxic medication used to stabilize people overdosing on opioids.

Naloxone HCl, often known by the brand name NARCAN®, is a safe, non-toxic medication used to reverse overdoses from opioids like prescription painkillers or heroin. Every day, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and first responders use naloxone to stabilize people overdosing on opioids. The drug is typically sprayed up the nose or injected into a muscle and can reverse overdose symptoms, particularly slow or no breathing, within minutes.

Partners Health Management distributes Opioid Overdose Reversal Kits to substance use disorder treatment agencies. The kits serve as a proactive clinical tool. By giving Naloxone directly to those who may need it most, Partners hopes to prevent emergencies, save lives, and advance recovery.

If you or someone you know needs help with substance use disorder, call Partners’ HOPE line anytime, every day at 1-888-235-HOPE (4673). For information about obtaining naloxone, contact a pharmacy or Olive Branch Ministry at 1-828-291-7023.