Narcan saves life of heroin overdose victim

The Facing Addiction Safford Pilot Program has chosen team captains and will hold a candlelight vigil meeting Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Graham County Courthouse.

SAFFORD – The use of the opiate antidote Narcan (naloxone) saved the life of a Safford man Saturday.

Police and paramedics from Southwest Ambulance were dispatched at about 2:56 p.m. to a residence in the 600 block of Gila Avenue regarding an overdose victim. Upon arrival, authorities located the victim lying on the hallway floor between the bathroom and northeast bedroom. The victim was pale and discolored and had shallow breathing, according to the police report.

Authorities also observed a fresh injection mark on the victim’s right forearm consistent with heroin use. Later, the mother of the victim gave officers bags containing two syringes, the bottom of an aluminum can, two Q-tips and a King Cobra bottle cap. The mother said she found the items in the bathroom. Her son apparently attempted to commit suicide by overdosing, according to the police report.

Paramedics arrived at the scene and administered two doses of Narcan to the victim. After the second dose, the victim woke up and was stabilized. He was then transported to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for further treatment. A violation of possession of drug paraphernalia was forwarded to the Safford City Prosecutor for charging.

Narcan used to only be available by prescription and use by first responders like paramedics and police officers. However, Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2355 into law May 12, which allows a pharmacist to dispense naloxone without a prescription to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, a family member or community member who is in a position to assist those with opioid issues.

“As we work to curb the trend of addiction, we are also focused on helping those already suffering,” Ducey said. “In 2014, 552 people died of opioid poisoning in Arizona. Thanks to Rep. Heather Carter and all who championed on behalf of HB 2355, we’re giving family members the tools to save a loved one’s life. We are committed to ensuring that more substance abuse treatment options are available, and hope that those who are given a second chance at life because of this legislation will seek help in overcoming their addiction.”

Narcan is administered by either intramuscular injection into the victim’s muscle of the arm, thigh or buttocks or with a nasal spray device into the victim’s nose. The anti-opioid can stabilize an overdose victim for anywhere roughly between 20 to 60 minutes, where the danger point of an overdose will have passed and/or medical treatment can be attained.

The American Medical Association has endorsed training of people in the use of Narcan and Gil Kerlikowski, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has said naloxone distribution is a key component to overdose prevention.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose has surpassed motor-vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 64 in America.