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WDH: overdose antidote orders offered to Wyoming groups

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Aug. 31, is International Overdose Day. The day acts as the world’s annual campaign to end overdose, to remember, without stigma, those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. It also gives communities an opportunity to create conversations around overdose, the causes and the effects of those trying to slow the tide.

The Wyoming Department of Health reports that free orders of a temporary opioid overdose antidote known as NARCAN® are once again available for Wyoming groups through the WDH.

Erica Mathews, Grants and Programs Unit manager with the WDH Behavioral Health Division, said NARCAN® is a potentially lifesaving prescription medication designed to quickly help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

“This program provides free NARCAN® to agencies, businesses and organizations in Wyoming that may be in position to help people who are experiencing an opioid overdose,” Mathews said. “It’s meant for groups such as law enforcement agencies, emergency medical service providers and schools rather than for individual orders.” 

The effort is being funded through the State Opioid Response Grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

WDH data show annual deaths attributed to overdoses in Wyoming have increased between some years and decreased at other times. It’s believed the recent increase in overdose deaths can largely be attributed to an increase in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths. In 2021, 106 overdose deaths were recorded among Wyoming residents compared to 99 in 2020, 78 in 2019, 65 in 2018, 62 in 2017, 94 in 2016, 96 in 2015, 106 in 2014, 96 in 2013 and 99 in 2012.

The active ingredient in NARCAN®, naloxone hydrochloride, can block the effects of opioids and restore normal breathing in a person whose breathing has slowed, or even stopped, as a result of opioid overdose.

According to Mathews, more than one dose of naloxone may be required when stronger opioids and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are involved.

Groups interested in receiving the medication through the Wyoming program should click here. Important rules, specific program requirements and ordering information are available.

People interested in a personal supply of naloxone for themselves or for a close friend or family member should ask local pharmacies or medical providers about the medication. Insurance will sometimes cover prescriptions for naloxone and some pharmacies are able to provide naloxone for individuals without a doctor’s prescription.

The WDH Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP) previously provided NARCAN to groups using federal funding from 2016 until last fall when that particular grant participation ended for the Cowboy State.

Rachel Nuss, Community Prevention Unit manager with WDH, said her program continues to fund county prevention specialists who work on a variety of substance abuse prevention services. Prevention services include creating and updating policies, reducing access to prescription drugs through drug take-back events and promoting prescription drug drop boxes, safe storage and safe disposal methods, in addition to providing educational resources as needed.

Online NARCAN® administration training can be found by clicking here. The training is free for people who enter a Wyoming address on the site.

According to the WDH, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is also available throughout Wyoming and is a proven treatment of opioid use disorders in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. The WDH Behavioral Health Division contracts for MAT services and other opioid use disorder treatment services with regional community substance abuse treatment providers. Services from community substance abuse treatment providers are available regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. MAT and other opioid use disorder treatment services may also be available from other local certified providers. To locate a community substance abuse treatment provider or certified provider, click here.

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