SEATTLE — The opioid epidemic sweeping Western Washington and the nation is nothing new.
“The opioid epidemic has been an epidemic for decades, but it was affecting poor communities of color and no one cared. It recently made the shift to white communities and now it’s become a public health issue,” said Autum, who is with the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance.
Now the public can play a role in fighting back. Autum set up a lesson to teach people how to use the opioid antidote called Narcan for people overdosing.
“They won’t respond to you yelling their name. If their lips are starting to turn blue and they’re breaths are slow and labored, that means they’re actively overdosing,” said Autum.
A Narcan or Naloxone kit includes four parts to bring them back to life -- two vials of the medication and two needles.
“Pop it into the little gray cap part, flip it upside down, and pull the needle down so it’s submerged in the needle and just loosen your thumb and pull back,” said Autum.
It’s something a group of about 15 community members learned how to do, including Dana who wishes she learned this long ago after watching someone overdosing.
“I didn’t know how to use it and we were trying to call and it was very confusing,” said Dana.
But Thursday night, Dana got the hang of it. Fill up the first needle and inject in the butt, thigh or shoulder.
“Wait two minutes. If the person doesn’t wake up you would give them a second dose,” said Autum.
Autum taught the simple steps to administer Narcan. A new way for Dana to help her loved ones stay alive.
“People are talking about it. It’s not so taboo like it used to be and hopefully, it will save lives,” said Dana.
There are several Washington state laws to protect people who use Narcan as a life-saving tool. RCW 69.50.315 allows anyone at risk for having or witnessing a drug overdose to have Narcan and use it or provide medical assistance.
It also protects the overdose victim and the person with the Narcan from prosecution for misdemeanor drug possession. Another state law, RCW 4.24.300 under the Good Samaritan laws, gives you immunity to civil liabilities if you administer Narcan.