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CDC: Narcon Overdose-Reversal Kits Are Saving Addicts' Lives

Narcan kits have prevented almost 27,000 deaths in two decades, researchers say

FRIDAY, June 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Friends and family members have saved the lives of tens of thousands of opioid users from overdoses by using emergency injection kits containing naloxone (Narcan), according to a new federal report. The findings were published in the June 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Almost 27,000 drug-overdose reversals using Narcan kits were reported to U.S. health officials between 1996 and 2014, according to the report. "Overdoses are often witnessed by other drug users and family members of drug users," lead researcher Eliza Wheeler, DOPE Project Manager at the Harm Reduction Coalition in Oakland, Calif., told HealthDay. That's why more than 600 organizations have programs in place to provide Narcan kits to friends and family of opioid users. From 1996 through June 2014, these groups have provided Narcan kits to more than 150,000 people, according to the researchers.

In 2013 alone, 43,982 people died from drug overdoses, including 16,235 deaths from prescription opioids, such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), and 8,257 deaths from heroin, the researchers reported. Since 1996, growing numbers of organizations have been supplying training kits containing Narcan to drug users and their families and friends, Wheeler said. Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have at least one organization that provides kits, she said.

People can search the Internet for the closest program, Wheeler said. People can also get prescriptions from their doctor or, in some areas, from clinics or pharmacists who supply kits and training, she added.

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