You don’t have to be a superhero to stop an opioid overdose. Though the mother and father of a young adult might just think you are if you save their child’s life. Parents, siblings, friends and coworkers of those addicted to opioids may need an alternative. The way the U.S. opioid epidemic continues to spiral out of control across the Midwest and coast-to-coast, this is a public health and safety crisis. And now, everyday people have to put their superhero capes on to make headway in this drug war because, thus far, we’re losing.
Why the Opioid Overdose Crisis Still Lives
According to the National Vital Statistics System Mortality File, there are three “waves” related to the recent opioid overdose deaths in this country. It began in 1999 with an increase in mortality rates from prescription medication overdoses. Then, in 2010, there was a sharp increase in deaths from heroin overdoses. The final wave began to appear in 2013, with a straight vertical incline in synthetic opioid overdose deaths. We wish we could tell you that by the end of 2018, all three waves were dropping. In fact, we can’t even say that they’ve fallen flat. Opioid-related overdose deaths in the U.S. continue to climb. And with all the changes in regulations that make it harder for doctors to prescribe them beyond 30 days’ use, it’s more difficult for patients to obtain them. But there still remains an apparent disconnect between use, abuse and addiction to opioids.
People who suffered through pain, after they were denied refills for prescription medications sought refuge in street opioids, like heroin, as it is easily accessible and cheaper. In addition, domestic drug manufacturers and dealers, as well as the drug cartel from abroad, began to use synthetic opioids in their drug trade. Fentanyl and carfentanyl are added to other drugs as a mechanism to increase a user’s codependency opiates, stimulants and more. This is why the DOPP initiative has come to life.
What Is DOPP in the State of Illinois?
The Drug Overdose Prevention Program (DOPP) for the Illinois State Division of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) is a certification that is awarded for people who elect to undergo specific training to enable opioid overdose prevention or reversal.
Recipients of the DOPP certification can administer Narcan®, a form of Naloxone in a nasal spray, that can save the life of a person in the throes of an opioid overdose. And because opioid use is “So prominent on our roads, in the workplace, and in our neighborhoods, we have to do more to save more,” says Mike Loverde, President and Founder of Family First Intervention.
Why Family First Intervention Sees DOPP as a Necessity for All
Counties across the United States don’t have the financial resources and first responders available to administer Narcan to those who need it. With the added stress on emergency workers tending to overdose calls, other health and safety crises that come in through 911 calls cannot be met with timely responsiveness. People closest to the victim often have the best chance at saving them from an overdose. Allowing adults the opportunity to learn how to give Narcan at a moment’s notice makes perfect sense.
Lisa Loverde, Vice President of Family First Intervention, retells a story that came about during a trip to see a family who had scheduled a drug intervention for their son. “I was on the airplane, minding my own business when I noticed a woman seated in a row near me. She was chewing on something and I realized it was a fentanyl patch, an opioid with potency at 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. I don’t know why she was on it but before long, I saw her head start to nod and she was overdosing. If I didn’t know how to give her Narcan and wasn’t licensed to do it, she would have been gone before we ever landed.”
The Benefits of Narcan and Widespread Use
Imagine walking in to your parents’ home, calling out for your Mom and not getting an answer. Your concerns in stopping by to check in on her are justified. It was only 20 minutes ago that you spoke on the phone and noticed that her speech was slurred. You just wanted to make sure she wasn’t having a stroke.
Instead, you find her slumped over on the sofa, looking pale, with drool dripping off the side of her mouth. Unbeknownst to you, she had taken too many pain pills. And if you hadn’t been trained on how to use Narcan, you wouldn’t know how to save her from the opioid overdose.
From 2015 to 2017, naloxone has saved
81% of people who overdosed on opioids.
Now that Family First Intervention has the DOPP certification, not only can they help anyone reverse a pending overdose but also train others to do the same. It’s a safety protocol that adds peace of mind to the places we eat, play, work and live in.
No Legal Risk to Consumers Who Have DOPP Training
After completing the DOPP training and receiving the certification, it provides the necessary authorization and legal right to administer Narcan/naloxone to anyone who is amidst an opioid overdose. In addition, the 2010 Good Samaritan Law provides safeguards for the people who do administer Narcan in others. The law protects people from prosecution, when 911 is called to help someone overdosing on opioids. Why does this matter?
Instances of opioid overdose often happen in the presence of others who are using. The law prohibits arrest for drug use, and possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal substances, and the sale of drugs or distribution charges in anyone who calls emergency services to help prevent an opioid overdose.
No matter what state you live in, DOPP training is essential to winning the war on the opioid epidemic. Family First Intervention can provide this vital program to communities on site or through a call.