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Snohomish County program saves 100 lives with overdose-reversing drug

MONROE, Wash. – One hundred lives saved. It’s being seen as a milestone in the fight against our region’s opioid epidemic.

Thanks to overdose-reversing drugs like naloxone being used in Snohomish County, that’s how many people were saved since 2015.

The Opioid Overdose Prevention Project has been training and supplying police agencies across Snohomish County with the life-saving drug.

“This is the Narcan,” said trainer Cleo Harris. “You just open up the box and the dose looks like this.”

The drug in her hands has proven time and time again to save lives across Puget Sound.

“It makes me very sad there’s a need for it but I’m very glad there’s Narcan available to save these lives.”

Harris has already trained close to 1,000 police officers when and how to use the drug across the county. She calls the program a success

“I think there’s 100 people that have a disease that are now given an opportunity to get the help they need to find recovery,” she said.

Officials say with every case there's a story.

“Husbands that hide it from their families, grandparents who are using,” said county spokesperson Kent Patton. “These are the incredible stories that just break your heart.”

“It’s not only a heroin user or someone on the street injecting drugs, this is something we found in common households,” said pharmacist Shawnett at Pharm A Save pharmacy in Monroe. “Kids can get into medications unintentionally. Senior citizens, they can’t remember if they took their medication or not.”

The overdose-reversing drug is also available to the general public. Pharmacists across Puget Sound have the power to fill prescriptions for moms and dads whose children or loved ones might be struggling with addiction or accidental overdose.

“It’s caregivers, it’s families, it’s friends,” said Shawnett. “Its sometimes strangers who want to be equipped with these kinds of tools to help someone who might need it.”

Program officials and health professionals agree. As long as our region continues suffering from the opioid epidemic, drugs like naloxone and Narcan can make a difference.

“These are our neighbors and friends and they have a terrible disease,” said Patton.

“Some days it feels very rewarding,” said Shawnett, “I wish we could do more.”

Click this link to locate a pharmacy near your neighborhood that sells the overdose-reversing drugs.

The Washington State Department of Health is working to combat the opioid epidemic by changing the way doctors prescribe certain painkillers.  The Department of Health is holding meetings to get community input before writing new rules for painkiller prescription. If you would like to get involved, click here.