Mississippi expands access of Naloxone to prevent opioid overdose deaths
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Department of Health is allowing pharmacists to sell Naloxone, an opioid reversal drug, to customers without a prescription - giving access to anyone who asks for it.
“It is a necessity right now, considering the evolution of the drug culture, as we continue to drive forward to ensure public safety and public health,” Col. Steven Maxwell, Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, said.
The state of Mississippi is taking further strides in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Their solution is to expand the access to opioid overdose reversal drugs, like Naloxone or NARCAN, to the public.
“This is a tool that you can have at your fingertips to prevent the death of another person. And if that is possible, we want to be able to provide that,” Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Wendy Bailey, said.
Prior to the expansion, NARCAN was primarily used by law enforcement and paramedics who respond to overdose calls. The Ridgeland Police Department has been using it for years.
“We squirt the nasal Narcan into their nasal passage, and it starts reducing the effects of opioids. You will start seeing the results, in most cases 15-20 seconds,” Lieutenant Eddy Addison explained.
But, would expanding access enable users to continue using opioids?
“It’s not like you just use it, you know, and then you go back to your life 15 minutes later. It’s not that you still have to seek medical attention, attention,” Bailey said.
Col. Maxwell said after 500 overdose deaths were reported last year and 200 have been reported so far in 2022, it’s important to give as much access to reversal drugs to prevent that number from growing.
“It should be easily accessed because you never know when you may come in contact with someone who may have something inside of their bodies still metabolizing that may result in them overdosing. And you also yourself may potentially be exposed to fentanyl,” Maxwell said.
Addison said he thinks it’s important that if someone is going to carry NARCAN, they learn from experts on how and when to use it on someone.
For information about NARCAN and how to administer the drug, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health has videos that help demonstrate proper usage as well as a list of places that provide Naloxone to the public, free of charge.
If you are addicted to opioids, resources are available through MS DMH here or call the Substance Abuse Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.
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