Heroin and other narcotic overdoses are preventable - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Heroin and other narcotic overdoses are preventable

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KITTITAS COUNTY, WA - The Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) wants the public to know that heroin and other narcotic overdoses are preventable. It is possible, with the combination of education and having the reversal drug, naloxone, to stop an overdose and prevent a death from overdose.

Narcotics, also called opiates or opioids, are medications that can be used to relieve pain and they can also make you feel “high.”  Heroin is a narcotic, along with Percocet, Vicodin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, and methadone. Too much narcotic (overdose) slows and then stops breathing. This may look like falling asleep, but you cannot wake the person up.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse a narcotic overdose, but only for narcotics. It is now available in an easy-to use and fairly inexpensive nasal form. When you get naloxone, you need to learn how to recognize an overdose, and learn what to do in case of an overdose. You can ask your doctor for a prescription or KCPHD provides it, at no cost, for people who attend the Never Share Syringe Exchange. A naloxone prescription is recommended for anyone who is prescribed a narcotic for chronic pain as well as anyone who spends time with someone who is using narcotics for any reason (friend, partner, spouse, parent, etc.).

It is important to get medical help, even if naloxone has been given and the person wakes up. Naloxone wears off before most narcotics do.  In Washington State, the law protects people who seek medical assistance for a drug-related overdose from prosecution for drug and alcohol possession. The law does not protect against prosecution from outstanding warrants, probation violations, and crimes other than drug possession. For more information about the Good Samaritan law, visit http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=69.50.315.

“Heroin use is not going away. We have to continue talking about this issue and keep working with our community and partners to address overdose prevention. We are doing a disservice to families who are losing their children to overdose,” asserts Dr. Mark Larson, Health Officer. “Anyone who has contact with someone who uses opioids should have naloxone.”

For more information regarding overdose prevention, go to stopoverdose.org or call the Kittitas County Public Health Department at 509-962-7515.