ArkLaTex first responders discuss addiction, use of Narcan during pandemic
(KSLA) - For years, experts have flagged the use of opioids at epidemic levels in the United States.
In 2020, overdose deaths surpassed 93,000 deaths across the country, compared to 72,000 deaths the previous year. Of those deaths in 2019, 70.6% of them involved opioids.
First responders are now depending on Narcan to help save lives.
“It is a matter of life and death,” Administrative Assistant to the Shreveport Fire Chief Clarence Reese said. “Just imagine someone taking an overdose of an opioid and sitting there for quite a while without any intervention. We consider it to be life-saving.”
In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,267 overdose deaths in Louisiana, 3,316 deaths in Texas, 645 deaths in Oklahoma and 388 deaths in Arkansas.
“We’ve seen such a drastic increase, unfortunately, in the relapse rate,” said Chris Fort, a peer recovery support specialist with the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of Northwest Louisiana (CADA).
Fort attributes that increase to an increase in stress brought on by the pandemic.
“All of a sudden, [women] become every single role of the family. They had to become the sole provider; they had to become the teacher; they had to be everything.”
From 2020 to 2021, Reese said the Shreveport Fire Department has not seen an uptick in the use of Narcan.
“Roughly last year, we’ve given 200 doses of Narcan; right now, 2021, we’re at about 158,” he explained.
Reese said the fire department has responded to 26 overdose cases. It is important to note the department may use Narcan in other emergencies, as well.
Fort said CADA helps supply Narcan to local law enforcement, hospitals and other places that may need it.
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