Naloxone use sees massive increase in Ohio

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - A new study from the University of Cincinnati showed the use of Naloxone has increased by over 2,000% in the last five years. Naloxone is more commonly known as NARCAN.

“It is for opioids primarily,” said Larry Webb, a paramedic with WVU Camden Clark. “What NARCAN does, is on every cell in your body there are little receptors that are meant for opiates to settle on. And that’s where the effects come from. NARCAN goes in and roughly displaces the narcotic from the cell and takes its place and sits there, so hopefully the body has a chance to eliminate it.”

Prior to 2015, Naloxone was a prescription drug, but ever since it has been widely available to the public.

“it’s now accessible to the public, it’s accessible now to all our first responders, all our police officers. So, now it’s more quickly given, more readily given,” said Webb.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks says all of his officers carry NARCAN on the job. He says the drug has probably helped his department save lives.

“Sometimes we are able to arrive before the squad, not always, but there have been times, on occasion where we have been able to administer NARCAN,” said Mincks.

Webb says NARCAN’s hasn’t just risen in Ohio. He works primarily in Wood County, West Virginia.

“It’s skyrocketed similarly, yes. I’ve been doing this almost thirty years and in the four to five years the use, my use of narcan is five to six times the amount I would normally give say in the mid-90s to the early 2000s,” said Webb.

Mincks suspects his department may not be using as much NARCAN in the future as he says methamphetamine is becoming more popular, as opposed to the opioids NARCAN is used against.

Webb says the flow of illicit drugs “ebbs and flows,” but he says he sees a lot of overdoses.

“It’s not unusual for us to deal with, and throughout the city and the county, four to six overdoses daily, if not more,” said Webb.