The Wabash County Commissioners Monday approved a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) that will allow the Wabash County Health Department to be a distributor of the opioid antidote Naloxone.
Public health nurse Lori Foust asked for the approval while giving the Commissioners background information on how the distribution will work, presenting letters of support from local doctors as well as the Bowen Center.
“We’re just hoping to reduce deaths,” Foust said. “With the requests we’ve had to provide this service, this is a perfect time to do it.”
Interested parties in the community, both public and private, have approached the County Health Department, urging officials to become a distributor of Naloxone, or Narcan, a drug which reverses the effects of opioids.
Family members of those addicted to opioids are among those who have asked for the training. Foust explained that White’s Residential has also reached out about hosting training and having additional doses of Naloxone available.
The grant is for 250 doses of Naloxone, which the County Health Department will hold training for on how to administer before the drugs will be distributed. The training will be scheduled once the Naloxone kits have been received by the County Health Department.
“The City Fire Department, the City Police, the Sheriff’s Department – whoever wants it can have it,” Foust said. “We are also hoping to target rural fire departments.” Naloxone has been used to reverse opioid overdoses since 1971, the state’s website says.
In Indiana, opioid use has skyrocketed in recent years. State Department of Health data shows a 600 percent increase in substance abuse poisoning deaths state-wide since 1999.
Wabash County ranks 19th among Indiana’s 92 counties for non-fatal emergency department visits due to opioid overdose. And the county ranks 12th in the state for soft tissue infections associated with intravenous drug use.
“In a community, when you think about whose responsibility it is to help combat the opioid epidemic, a lot of individuals might think it’s law enforcement or the judicial system’s responsibility,” Four County Systems of Care Coordinator Antonia Sawyer said. “Really, it’ s all of our responsibility. This allows for community members to assist first responding agencies in emergency situations, so that everyone is doing their part or has an opportunity to do their part.”
Training is fairly easy and takes between 45 minutes to an hour, Sawyer said.
The doses of Naloxone come in the form of a nasal spray.
“We’ve been using Naloxone for over 40 years, and it has very minimal side effects,” Sawyer said. “And if you use it on an individual who is not having an opioid overdose, but you thought they were, it’s harmless and will not hurt them at all.”