March 6th is national Black Balloon Day, a day during which we remember all the lives lost to drug overdose.
In honor of this day, Families United for Change launched their Blair County Narcan Squad initiative that aims to deliver Narcan and other resources to local businesses.
The life-saving medication Naloxone, commonly called by its brand name “Narcan”, is a lifesaving drug that comes in the form of a nasal spray and is an easy and effective way to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. Virtually anyone can administer it.
An average of 14 people die in Pennsylvania every day as a result of an overdose, nationally it’s one person every 8 minutes. Naloxone is the only emergency drug that can reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications when given in time. Families united for change is just one organization that is trying to make a difference by making naloxone more accessible and distributing it to local businesses in Blair County.
”It takes so much loss for a community to come together and start coming up with a solution, Our idea of getting this out to the businesses is just the first step. By being out with the businesses and letting them know, hey this is where you can get Narcan, not just advertising for the business but we’re going to have flyers there for people that don’t know where to get it can have access to it as well.”
The goal is to have Narcan accessible in high-risk environments,
“We’re going to try to definitely hit gas stations and restaurants and bars, Really anybody that has a bathroom because sadly that’s what happens and then if somebody is found then they have it on hand and they don’t have to wait for the EMT’s to get there, they can save a life.”
But many of those suffering from substance abuse still face stigma when it comes to getting help.
“A lot of people think that having Narcan is enabling people to continue using, “A lot of people think that having Narcan is enabling people to continue using,” said Deleo. “They’re going to use regardless if it’s in your bathroom, your business, or outside or a couple houses down. Then we go what could we have done? We’re giving you a solution, here’s Narcan that takes two seconds to administer and save someone’s life.”
Some even argue that providing the medication is enabling drug use but research shows that naloxone does not lead to more drug use or riskier drug use.
“The stigma is out there that people think that it’s a bad thing to save this life because it’s just enabling them to continue drug use but that’s not necessarily the case, honestly it’s more about saving that life so that we can get them into treatment, Everybody knows how difficult the battle is with substance use so why not have every tool we can out there to save a life until we get them the help that they need.”
For more information about the organization you can visit the Families United for Change website.