Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, the largest provider of mental health and substance use disorder services in North Central Florida, has been selected by the Florida Department of Children and Families to distribute 117 doses of Narcan to patients and their families who are at risk of an opioid overdose.
In the United States overdoses now surpasses car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death. In 2014, opioid overdose deaths occurred at an average rate of 1 every 17 minutes.
Narcan is a FDA-approved medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. Narcan is an opioid antagonist — meaning it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of the drug. Resulting in restoring normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 1000 people every day are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. They also reported that six out of ten overdose deaths involve opioids.
“The availability of Naloxone (Narcan) will help reduce the risk of accidental overdose. While this is only a small part of the battle against this epidemic, it is an important avenue in helping to save lives,” said Dr. Abernethy, Medical Doctor at Meridian.
“It is our hope that through Meridian’s Medication Assistance Program we can help individuals in our community recover from their opioid addiction,” said Dr. Abernethy. The Opioid Treatment Program provides methadone to chronic opiate dependent persons in unison with therapeutic services such as individual and group counseling, social and rehabilitation services, and family therapy.
Narcan is available over-the-counter, but the high cost of this life-saving drug has prevented many individuals from purchasing it. This free distribution will help break down that barrier and allow Meridian to provide Narcan to those who may not have access due to financial constraints.