Wayne grant funds heroin antidote

HONESDALE, PA — Wayne County is continuing its effort to extend the availability of a life-saving heroin antidote to those who need it but have had reservations about buying it publicly.

For the third year, the Wayne County Drug and Alcohol Commission is providing $3,000 in grant funding to the Heroin Prevention Task Force to purchase 40 doses of the antidote Narcan, which they will then distribute at a series of small public meetings/trainings to be held throughout Wayne County.

Drug and Alcohol Commission Director Jeff Zerechak and Heroin Prevention Task Force spokesperson Suzie Calkin Frisch recently appeared before the county commissioners to publicize the ongoing program.

Zerechak said the idea was about “getting Narcan into the hands of those in need, to reduce heroin deaths. We want to see recovery, but you have to be alive to do it. Narcan can provide that opportunity to get into treatment.”

Frisch said it was astounding that heroin deaths now exceed motor-vehicle deaths. “We work with first responders, but the true first responders are parents.” Parents doing business with peers “don’t like to buy Narcan in public because of drug-use stigma. Others are tapped out because of addiction. For many it’s their first time ‘coming out,’” she said.

Kits to be distributed include everything needed to administer Narcan. She highlighted the latex gloves, which provide protection if the drug fentanyl is present, as exposure through the skin can be fatal. “Seven grains can kill, and touch can be fatal. You need the full kit, which contains two doses and would cost $100. We couldn’t do this without Wayne County Drug and Alcohol,” Frisch said.

She recalled one late-night call from a mother who exclaimed, “I did it, I did it,” after having administered Narcan to her overdosed son. “If you save one person, you save a family,” Frisch said.

In the latest Centers for Disease Control statistics from 2016, some 4,627 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses. The commonwealth ranks fourth among the 50 states in the number of opioid-related deaths per 100,000 persons, Commissioner Wendell Kay said.


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