Narcan training offered in Norwich, mothers of addicts weigh in

NORWICH – According to State Police Troop C Administrative Captain Patrick Garey, in the past two weeks there have been two local overdose deaths, one of which was a 25-year-old woman.

Naloxone – also known as Narcan – is an opioid antagonist that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, potentially saving a life.

Two free Narcan training sessions are scheduled for 5:30 p.m., this Wednesday and Thursday Nov. 12 at Morrisville State College Norwich Campus.

All community members are encouraged to attend one of the nights, and are more than welcome.

During the one hour session, attendees will be trained on how to administer Narcan and will provided a free kit.

Organizer Sarah Francis said that she and her husband spent Halloween night handing out flyers for the event at area drinking establishments.

“It was truly disheartening to encounter person after person after person who knew at least one friend, family member, or other community member with a heroin addiction,” said Francis. “The very first people we encountered were a young lady and young man, I would guess approximately 30 years old. The emotion they expressed was real and raw as thanked us repeatedly and told us they are both former heroin addicts; clean for three years. You would never have guessed, looking at them today.”

The events are provided by the Southern Tier Aids Program.

Those wishing to receive a Narcan kit must be 16 years or older.

“Another young man told us that his little brother is a heroin addict and as we told him that he should definitely plan on attending, he looked at us dumbfounded and asked, 'Why should I go?’” said Francis. “We did tell him he should attend as he may one day be in a position to save his brothers life … he didn't get it. My goal is to get everyone talking about this disease, to acknowledge this problem, so we can get talking about productive and effective ways to deal with this disease and make treatment available for our addicted family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers.”

Francis – in a previous interview with The Evening Sun – said, “I lost my oldest of two sons to an accidental heroin overdose almost six years ago. I'm having a hard time finding the words to describe the horror of learning my younger son somehow chose this same path and is now having to deal with the horrific circumstances of his choices. Each time a parent now reaches out to me, the first piece of advise I give is to get to a class for Narcan training or to contact Southern Tier Aids directly as they will train you and provide you with the potentially life saving kit. The kit that may well save your child's life. Every bodies situation is different; some have insurance and others have none but the one thing we can all do is to learn to save the life of an overdose victim. It is better to be prepared and never have to use it, than to need it and not have it or the training and to watch someone die.”

Laura Burton lost her son Anthony to addiction just more than four weeks ago.

“Narcan saved his life once that I know of, I believe there were others,” Burton said. She added that if Narcan were in the hands of more people, she believes more lives could be saved.

Burton also said there is a stigma attached to addiction.

“Until people begin to understand that it is a disease, like cancer, they will be stigmatized. Much like mental illness still is. Medical, disease model is what needs to be taught,” Burton said.

With regard to other possible answers to assistance for those struggling with addiction, Burton said the adoption of the Medical/Disease model to identify and treat is necessary. “Education. Remove stigma. Better long term treatment,” she said.

“Addiction is biological,” said Burton. “It literally changes the structure of the brain. It is a disease. Period. Full stop. A disease.”

“The addiction doesn’t die,” said Burton. “The person does.”

The capacity each night is 85 people. Anyone wishing to attend either Narcan training this week can call 337-0559.

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