To combat the ever-growing opioid epidemic in Idaho, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has made it easy for organizations in Idaho to request free naloxone. Naloxone, the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, saves lives when it’s given quickly because it blocks the effects of opioids on the brain.
The shelf-life for naloxone is three years. Often referred to by the nasal spray brand name, Narcan, it must be administered by someone other than the individual experiencing the overdose, making it important for friends, family, and first responders to carry it.
Someone who administers naloxone to a person who appears to be experiencing an opioid overdose is legally protected by Idaho’s Good Samaritan Law. This law, along with recent statute changes, encourages Idahoans to administer naloxone and leave any extra doses with family and friends. Naloxone will not harm someone who does not have opioids in their system; it is recommended to give a dose of naloxone to anyone experiencing the signs and symptoms of an overdose. These include blue lips or fingertips, limpness, unresponsiveness, slow or irregular heartbeat, and small pupils.
Community organizations such as libraries, schools, bars, and restaurants, among others, are encouraged to have a supply of naloxone because it reduces the risk of death when someone is overdosing. Reversing an overdose with naloxone can save a life and help connect people to treatment.
Idaho has been experiencing a rise in fentanyl-related overdoses. Fentanyl is becoming more common in illicit drugs seized by law enforcement. Since April 2021, Idaho has seen a rise in emergency room visits related to suspected overdose.
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, and it is the world’s largest annual campaign to raise awareness of overdose, remember those who have died, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. In Boise, an event will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the steps of the Idaho Capitol Building that will include speakers and a candlelight vigil.
Nearly everyone in our communities has been impacted in one way or another by the opioid epidemic. International Overdose Awareness Day provides an opportunity for us to remember the lives that have been lost and to bring us together to share resources and inspiration to reduce the impact opioids are having on our communities.
Idaho organizations interested in requesting free naloxone can visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Overdose Response website: https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/services-programs/overdose-response
Caroline Messerschmidt is a health program manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Drug Overdose Prevention Program.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.