By Mark Busbee, FRIDAY/ADAPT Staff
In 2017, over 70,000 people in this country died in overdose related deaths, over 46,000 from opioid overdoses. The United States uses over 80% of all the world’s opioids, including 99% of the Hydrocodone. To boost profits and provide a better high, suppliers have been adding Fentanyl and Carfentanil into the drug mix. In the past, the weight of responding to medical emergencies was mostly in the hands of EMS or Fire Department personnel. As the problem has become more widespread law enforcement has found itself on the frontline. While things in Texas have not been as bad as in some parts of the nation, we have still found ourselves feeling its effects. Every overdose has the potential to result in death. To help address the problem, emergency personnel deploy the drug naloxone to counter the effects of an opioid overdose.
I was working a booth at the TCOLE conference in Corpus Christi back in October of 2018 when I was approached by a subject who works with ADAPT Pharma. They are a nationwide grant funded program trying to get naloxone into the hands of those who can most make a difference, law enforcement first responders. To do so, they were offering free two dose kits of nasal Narcan (naloxone) to any first responders who received training in its use. Since they were a nationwide program based in the Northeastern part of the country, they were having problems making contact with law enforcement in Texas.
While the Focus on Reducing Impaired Driving Among Youth (FRIDAY) and our own Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Training (ADAPT) programs provide valuable information to law enforcement and civilian audiences, it can sometimes be difficult to interest agencies in holding the classes. Most times when an officer hears the term “underage” they think the training covers only juveniles, rather than those between 17 and 21. Admittedly, not every officer wants to work in alcohol and drug impairment enforcement and prevention. For that reason, the FRIDAY program works to provide incentives for attendance; whether that is TCOLE, drug counselor, or Certified Professional Educator (CPE) credits or providing classes that address the information needs of a variety of audiences. From talking to the ADAPT Pharma vendor, we saw the opportunity to help out both programs by working together.
First, FRIDAY instructor staff attended training on the administration of naloxone and put together a presentation module explaining the what, where, when, why and how of the drug. This presentation module can be added to 8-hour FRIDAY or ADAPT classes, should the requesting agency be interested. Naloxone has been found to be an effective drug to counteract an opioid overdose. It is not only safe, but easy to administer, which is why all 50-states have standing orders to allow pharmacies to dispense to those with a medical need (in Texas, SB 1462). The short training module is provided by the program prior to handing out the kits. The training and kits allow law enforcement to save lives, and the FRIDAY program is proud to be able to help.
Since the first doses were received in February of 2019, the FRIDAY program has distributed over 1000 two dose kits of nasal Narcan to law enforcement and first responders across the state during training sessions for our 8-hour courses. By providing the training and kits, FRIDAY has made it possible for first responders to not only save the lives of civilians, but when needed, to provide assistance to fellow law enforcement. Not every overdose emergency is going to involve a homeless addict who spends their time between uses stealing everything that is not tied down. One day it may be a child that got into their grandmother’s medicine cabinet, an elderly relative who accidentally took too much pain medication, or a fellow officer who unwittingly breathed in a powder while searching a vehicle. While naloxone cannot save everyone, for example it only works on opioid overdoses, it can be a powerful tool to save lives. Last year, our grant objective was to train 800 law enforcement and civilian criminal justice support personnel and school administrators in our 8-hour training classes. We feel that by adding the short naloxone training coupled with the nasal Narcan kits, it helped to increase that number to over 1200, allowing our message on combatting underage impaired driving to get out to that many more personnel.
If you are interested in hosting a free 8-hour FRIDAY or ADAPT class, or any of our shorter presentations, please email Mark Busbee (email@example.com), Tammy Spencer (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chuck Carlile (email@example.com), or Kimberly Garza (Kimberly.firstname.lastname@example.org). Let us know if you would like the Narcan presentation and we will be happy to assist. Thank you for all that you do!