Narcan nasal spray now provided to county health departments - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Narcan nasal spray now provided to county health departments

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YAKIMA, WA - The opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans in 2017. Victims die from illegal drugs like heroin, but also illegal prescriptions like fentanyl or oxycodone.

At first, an overdose doesn't seem scary until someone stops breathing. So how do you save someone who's overdosing? First, try to wake them up. But what if that doesn't work?

"We recommend with overdose is what's called a sternal rub," said Liz Whitaker, community health supervisor with Kittitas County. "You rub really hard on this part of your chest."

That may not help either. One thing that could?

Narcan nasal spray. The FDA-approved formulation of naloxone - an antidote for a opiate overdose.

"And we have this little thing that you just stick it in somebody's nose and squirt."

The University of Washington received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to give free narcan spray to health departments across the state, including Kittitas County.

"If you've given naloxone and somebody wakes up, that's not the end of the story. You still have to call 911. They could still overdose later if they don't get medical attention."

According to the Washington State Department of Health, more than 180 people have died the past four years from opioid-related overdoses in Kittitas, Yakima, Benton, and Franklin Counties.

If you live in Kittitas County, you can get narcan nasal spray by visiting the county health department and answering basic questions like age and race.

"We would rather people have the naloxone than be worried about being identified and arrested. That's not where we're at."

Narcan nasal spray costs about $75 wholesale. And for those who can't get the spray, injectable naloxone is something that you can get prescribed by your doctor, but it's often not covered by your health insurance.