HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Last week, the Wolf Administration discussed access to harm reduction tools, like Naloxone, in combatting opioid overdoses. The opioid reversing medication is widely available and is easy for all Pennsylvanians to obtain.
Naloxone is approved by the FDA to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose and quickly restore breathing to a person if it is slowed or stopped.
“Overdoses can and do occur anywhere at any time,” said Steve Ross, Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).
According to officials, the overdose reverser can be administered by individuals with or without medical training. Increasing its availability and getting more people educated and trained has been a major focus for the Wolf Administration’s Department of Drug and Alcohol programs.
“It just helps in our fight to make it available and be able to save lives when that situation occurs,” said Ross, adding that the department has been able to ensure Naloxone access for all 67 counties. “Since 2020, we got 36,000 doses in in all 67 counties,” added Ross.
This week, his team is reminding Pennsylvanians that Naloxone is available for everyone, because being confronted with an overdose can happen at any time. Since 2017, 19 overdoses were reversed by state park officers with Naloxone. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) requires state park officers at all 124 state parks to be trained in administering naloxone. They carry a naloxone kit including a pair of gloves, two prefilled, needleless intranasal devices and a carrying case while on duty.
“DCNR is proud to support Wolf Administration efforts to fight overdose deaths and substance use disorders by providing front-line responders with naloxone and sharing resources for those in need of treatment at state parks and forests,” said DCNR Policy Director Nicole Faraguna. “So many of us have been affected by the overdose epidemic, which is why we want to assist those struggling with addiction in a compassionate and evidence-based way to help direct them towards a more positive path,” Faraguna added.
“Not only having the state park officers carrying it, but folks who visit the state park. Hikers, if they have it in their backpacks, it just helps to be able to have that available when that situation occurs,” said Ross.
Pennsylvania also partners with nonprofit organizations to provide a statewide mail-based Naloxone program.
Ross says it’s all about providing a lifesaving tool during a deadly epidemic that continues to impact families across Pennsylvania, while decreasing stigma at the same time.
“Anybody that has a loved one or knows of somebody that is in a situation with substance use disorder, if they can get their hands on Naloxone, they’ll be in a position to potentially save a life,” said Ross. “Getting Naloxone out there and making it available is of utmost importance to us. The more that we can normalize the carrying of naloxone, it helps to reduce the stigma associated with the disease of addiction,” he added.