Yesterday, DPH staff was joined at the State House by Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz to announce the Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Program has reported its 2,000th overdose reversal in six years of operation.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, blocks the effects of opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine and methadone. As part of the overdose prevention program, staff distribute naloxone nasal spray kits and provide training to opioid users and trusted people in their lives, such as family, friends and human services providers. The training helps individuals recognize and respond to an overdose by calling 9-1-1, performing rescue breathing and administering naloxone nasal spray. The programs also offer referrals to treatment and long-term supports.
DPH has operated the overdose prevention program since 2007, as part of a multi-faceted approach to overdose prevention, including increased access to opiate treatment, funding for municipalities to reduce overdoses at the community level and educational awareness programs.
Training and naloxone nasal spray kits are available at sites located in 15 Massachusetts cities, all with high overdose rates: Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Fall River, Holyoke, Hyannis, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Northampton, Provincetown, Quincy, Springfield and Worcester.
Lieutenant Detective Patrick Glynn of the Quincy Police Department and Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn to Cope, a DPH-sponsored support group for parents and family members living with a loved one addicted to opioids, also spoke and shared their experiences with the OEND program and the effect it has had on their communities.
For more information on the OEND program, and other ways that DPH is working with communities across Massachusetts to reduce opioid overdoses, visit the Opioid Overdose Prevention website. For a referral to treatment please go to www.helpline-online.com or call 800-327-5050.