Central District Health discusses the importance of Narcan
Naloxone (Narcan) is a drug that reverses an opioid overdose. Many agencies in Idaho provide it for free.
MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho – According to the CDC, more than 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Concerns like this are why Idaho leaders have declared fentanyl a growing threat in the Gem State. It even prompted Governor Brad Little to create Operation Esto Perpetua, a task force dedicated to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into Idaho.
As the task force prepares to meet with communities across Gem State in the coming weeks, local health officials are already putting the ball rolling on how to prevent more opioid overdose deaths.
Central District Health’s Drug Overdose Prevention Program meets with people from Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties to focus on overdose prevention and response efforts. The free, one-hour training is taught by Courtney Boyce, MPH, health education specialist for Central District Health (CDH), who said the course is designed for everyone.
“It enhances our community’s ability to be able to deal with these types of emergencies while allowing family members and friends to know what to do if something goes wrong,” Boyce said.
According to data from the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness‘ Drug Overdose Prevention Program, fentanyl-related overdose deaths have doubled in the state in the past year. Preliminary data shows fentanyl was linked to 21% of overdose deaths in 2020 and the synthetic opioid was linked to 42% of overdose deaths in Idaho in 2021.
Because of the significance of opioid-related overdoses in Idaho, Boyce said knowing what to do in one of those situations could save a life.
“Everyone needs this training because nobody knows when an emergency like this might happen,” Boyce said.
Part of this training teaches people the nasal spray Naloxone (Narcan), which is a drug that reverses an opioid overdose. According to Boyce, an overdose can slow a person’s breathing and, in some cases, stop it altogether.
“[Naloxone] expels an opioid from a person’s receptors and replaces it for 30 to 60 minutes,” Boyce said. She added that it helps bring the victim’s breathing back to normal.
Boyce said many overdoses are unintentional. Law enforcement and health departments told KTVB they see fentanyl being repackaged to look like legitimate prescription drugs and combined with other drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine.
“It only takes a little [of fentanyl] be deadly so they could potentially overdose on opioids even if it wasn’t their substance of choice,” Boyce said.
Because of this, Boyce said it’s an important lesson and a tool everyone should have even if someone isn’t on medication.
“It’s the same as having a fire extinguisher in your house,” Boyce said. She added that Narcan is so small that people should carry it with them at all times because they never know who they may encounter.
“We’re seeing a lot of law enforcement officers wearing it now, which is great because we’re seeing more setbacks as a result,” Boyce said.
Naloxone is free for everyone through different organizations, such as IDHW and the Idaho Harm Reduction Project. Boyce said people can also pick up the drugs at pharmacies in Idaho.
Anyone can also ask Boyce to organize overdose prevention and response training for their group or business. Narcan and response kits will be provided.
Check out the latest news from Treasure Valley and Gem State in our YouTube playlist: