Beginning next month, Clayton police officers will be equipped with Naloxone, an opioid antagonist used to reverse drug overdoses from narcotics such as heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers. Naloxone is a safe, effective medication that temporarily blocks the effects of opioids in the brain long enough to restore breathing in a person experiencing respiratory failure from an opioid overdose.
The Clayton Police Department joins over 70 other agencies across the state that have equipped officers with Naloxone in an effort to cut back on deaths from opioid overdose. Statewide, deaths from heroin alone have increased 565% since 2010. Over 1,100 people die from accidental overdose each year – primarily from prescription pain relievers.
Police Chief Wayne Bridges said that the Town of Clayton is not experiencing serious problems associated with any type of drug at this time, but believes that preparation and caution dictate that the department be ready with this potentially lifesaving drug. Chief Bridges worked closely with Chief Josh Holloman of Johnston County Emergency Services, the Johnston County Health Department, and the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition to make the program happen. Clayton will be the first agency in the area to have access to this life saving drug.
In late May, the officers will receive training on how to recognize an opioid overdose and respond with Naloxone. The medication itself consists of a nasal spray squirted into the nose and typically takes effect within two minutes. Paramedics have used Naloxone to reverse opioid overdose for decades, but now law enforcement (who sometimes arrive at the scene of an overdose before EMS) also have an opportunity for a quick intervention when called to respond to an overdose.
Law enforcement Naloxone programs are made possible thanks to the 911 Good Samaritan Law enacted in North Carolina in 2013. This law removes liability from any person who administers Naloxone in good faith to save a life. The law also encourages people to seek medical help for an overdose by offering limited immunity for some drug, alcohol, and probation/parole violation offenses and allows community-based organizations to distribute Naloxone through a special prescription from a medical provider. Naloxone is now available for free through organizations such as the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.