A recent Crook County opioid assessment determined that use of opiates is increasing locally as are heroin-related arrests.
With the uptick in use, addiction, and abuse of prescription opiates and the rise in illicit street drug abuse, the danger of deadly overdoses is likewise on the rise. But such overdoses can be reversed with the use of Naloxone, a nasal spray-administered drug with no known adverse health impacts, that is now available in some local pharmacies.
To help educate the public on how to use Naloxone and save the life of a person who is experiencing an opioid overdose, the Crook County Health Department is hosting two free trainings next month.
The sessions will be held at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Crook County Library's Broughton Room, during which participants will receive a free Naloxone kit.
The local event was spurred by Erin Solomon, prescription overdose coordinator for Central Oregon Health Council, reaching out to Heather Stuart, prevention coordinator for Crook County Health Department.
Solomon called Stuart several months ago, letting her know that the council had some extra Naloxone available, and would be willing to coordinate an event in Prineville that would train residents how to administer the drug, stop and overdose and save lives. Such trainings have already been held in other Central Oregon communities.
"This training is basically learning how to reverse an opioid overdose," Stuart said. "A lot of people maybe associate that with illicit drugs, but we keep reiterating that the target population for this training is the general public. It is relevant for anyone who might use prescription pain killers after a surgery or somebody who could be using street drugs like heroin."
Stuart points out that people are at risk regardless of which category they fall under, so they are not trying to limit the target audience and hope to make the sessions an education opportunity for everyone and teach them how to use Naloxone and where to get it.
The Central Oregon Health Council applied for grant funding based on a Central Oregon need for Naloxone, which is what ultimately provided the medication that will be provided during the local sessions.
Punctuating the need for such a training in Prineville, Stuart noted that an opioid assessment was recently conducted in Crook County. The study, which examined the culture, drug culture and how opioids are misused locally, revealed that there is a high substance use rate in the community and opioids are just beginning to emerge in Crook County. In addition, local health leaders learned that heroin arrests are increasing locally.
"This is a harm prevention strategy," Stuart said of the Naloxone training sessions, "to prevent any potential overdoses."Along with explaining how to use Naloxone and where to find it, the training will heavily stress Oregon's Good Samaritan law.
"If someone is overdosing and you seek medical help for them, neither of you can be arrested or prosecuted for possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia in that moment, or for being in a place where drugs are being used, or for violating probation and parole because of possession of drugs or being in a place where drugs are used," Stuart explained. "This is about saving lives. We are not going to punish you for seeking medical help during an emergency."
The supply of Naloxone kits is limited, so Stuart encourages people to reserve a spot for one of the two training sessions. Walk-ins will be accepted, but event organizers cannot guarantee kits will still be available.
The Overdose education and Naloxone training event will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Crook County Library's Broughton Room. One session will take place at 12:30 p.m. and another will be held at 5:30 p.m. To reserve a seat, call Heather Stuart at 541-323-2451.
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