New drug aims to help reverse opiate overdoses

Ottawa County first responders have a new weapon in the war on drugs and combating drug-related deaths from opiates, and it comes in a tiny class vile.

Every Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputy will carry two doses of Narcan, the brand name for nasal naloxone, a new nasal spray used to prevent and reverse a drug overdose from opiates, including heroin and methadone.

In the event of a subject overdosing, a deputy will administer the spray into the nasal passages, effectively closing the opiate receptors and breaking the high.

“The mist goes into the nose and it closes those receptors, it’s very fast,” Sheriff Stephen Levorchick said. “It doesn’t bring them back from something else, but it will if it’s an opiate.”

Last year Lorain County became the first county in the state to use nasal naxolone in a pilot project. After it proved successful at preventing drug-related deaths, lawmakers allowed it to become available to other departments. Ottawa County is one of the first counties to fully integrate the spray into their department.

The Ottawa County Drug Task Force proposed the use of Narcan to the sheriff’s office and they worked together with the prosecutor’s office to buy their supply from the pharmacy at Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton.

Craig Ride, an agent with the Drug Task Force, said the drug will not harm a person if someone mistakenly assumes they have used opiates and has sprayed it into the person’s nose.

“But if the person is deceased from a drug-overdose, there’s nothing it can do,” Ride said. “It takes just under a minute for it to kick in and reverse it.”

Sheriff Levorchick said all 13 road deputies, three detectives and all administrative staff have been trained how to use Narcan and carry it with them on duty, wherever they go. They’ve had it on their gun belts for the last several weeks, though none have had to use it yet.

Ride said opiate overdoses have a depressing effect on the body, making the muscles in the body slow down and relax to the point the person’s diaphragm no longer moves and they cannot breathe.

Oftentimes, those who are brought out of an overdose from a product like Narcan become combative with the safety personnel for taking away their high, Ride said. The risks outweigh the chance of someone dying, though.

“(Narcan) gives addicts a second chance at life,” Ride said. “We hope they take advantage of it.”


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