The opioid crisis, which was declared a national public health emergency in October 2017, requires multiple approaches to prevent addiction and overdose. But one of many attack strategies is simply to help more people survive overdoses.
Also known by the brand name Narcan, naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, blocking opioids’ effects on the brain and restoring breathing. It’s harmless when given to someone who isn’t experiencing an overdose, and it has no potential for abuse.
When given in time, naloxone can save a life.
In spring 2018, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged Americans to learn how to use naloxone and to keep it within reach, especially if they had family or friends with opioid use disorder.
But at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the Ohio State College of Public Health, plans already were in motion to get this lifesaving drug into the hands of more community members.
“At the College of Public Health, we had asked ourselves what we were doing in the areas of harm reduction,” says Jose Rodriguez, the director of External Relations and Strategic Initiatives for the college. “One of the areas where we can help people suffering from substance use disorder is to keep them as healthy as possible while they’re using drugs so that they have a chance of recovery.”
The Ohio State College of Public Health collaborated with the Wexner Medical Center, Equitas Health, Ohio State’s Collegiate Recovery Community, the Wilce Student Health Center and other university student groups to design free sessions that not only would distribute naloxone kits to the public, but also would teach participants how to administer it safely.
In September and October 2018, five training sessions provided more than 200 community members with training and naloxone kits funded by the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
These trainings were conducted at the Northside Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, Ohio State’s Wilce Student Health Center and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, as well as the Jerome Schottenstein Center during Healthy Community Day.
The sessions proved in-demand; at some events, educators spoke to standing-room-only crowds.
“We exceeded all of our goals substantially,” Rodriguez says. “We had the naloxone kits to support the large numbers of attendees, who came away with extra knowledge about how to administer naloxone and view this epidemic through different lenses that will allow them to help save lives.”
Organizers are reviewing these efforts to consider future naloxone distribution opportunities in 2019. It’s one of many ways the medical center is adhering to its Strategic Plan goal of improving health and wellness in our communities.
Rodriguez notes that it’s a priority to the university and medical center to sustain these successful efforts to make healthier communities, both surrounding the university and beyond.
“There are no borders when it comes to Ohio State,” Rodriguez says. “We have a responsibility to support the communities as part of our outreach and enhance the health opportunities of Ohioans.
“One of our goals with public health is bringing people together to reduce harm and prevent disease. This training is a natural approach to support university employees, students, faculty, staff and our neighbors.”
How to access naloxone
In addition to Ohio State’s training and distribution events, here’s where you can find naloxone:
Equitas Health Medical Center and Pharmacy
Southeast Healthcare Services
Other Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) sites