BOSTON (WWLP) - Massachusetts has reached a major milestone in the fight against opiate overdose deaths.
The Patrick administration announced Monday that 2000 lives have been saved in the last six years thanks to a remarkable drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.
Through a state pilot program, Tapestry Health says it has saved hundreds of lives in western Massachusetts giving out naloxone, also known as narcane, to addicts and opiate users.
“We’ve enrolled over 2,000 people into the narcane program and out of that we’ve had about 280 report backs that the narcane was used to reverse an opiate overdose,” said Liz Whynott, the needle exchange program director at Tapestry Health.
Under the Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Program, Tapesty Health teaches people how to recognize, respond and prevent an opiate overdose. In an opiate overdose, a heroin and oxycodone user stops breathing and loses consciousness
“If somebody’s overdosing, it’s administered, it’s a nasal spray, they spray in somebody’s nose and within 90 seconds it will restore normal breathing. So somebody can look blue and dead and you’ll bring them back to life,” said Timothy Purington, the prevention services director at Tapestry Health.
Opiate users are being targeted to enroll in the program, as well as their parents and friends. AIDS Action Committee coordinator Erin Cheek has saved 7 lives using the user-friendly narcane nasal spray.
“It was frightening but I just kind of kept a cool head and just went through the steps and by the time the EMTs arrived he was once again breathing on his own,” said Cheek.
Signing up for the program only takes 15 minutes and Tapestry Health has sites where you can enroll in Springfield, Northampton and Holyoke.