WESTCHESTER COUNTY (WABC) -- Officials in Westchester County are hoping to address the stigma around opioid addiction and give residents the tools they need to help save lives.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Westchester is providing training sessions for residents on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose by using Narcan.
Narcan is the first-of-its-kind spray version of the anti-overdose medication naloxone and is used to reverse an opioid overdose.
Studies have found that the expansion of naloxone access decreased opioid overdose deaths by 10% or more in state and local jurisdictions that made the drug more available, according to the NCADD.
The spray will soon be available over the counter.
For Westchester resident Nanette Ginise, the realities of drug addiction and overdoses hits close to home.
"There are young people in my family that seem to enjoy fentanyl and heroin," Ginise said. "They have overdosed - not fatally."
That's what drove her to attend a training session.
At each session a counselor details the steps to recognize and safely respond to someone suffering a drug overdose.
Administering Narcan can save someone's life, but people need to take steps to protect themselves by wearing a mask and latex gloves.
"Residual coming off somebody's mouth, saliva, you don't know how much of the drug is in their system," social worker Dennis Andrews said. "So you don't want to put yourself at risk and be lying next to that person when the first responders come."
Nearly 107,000 Americans died after overdosing on some kind of drug in 2021, up from about 92,000 in 2020 and 70,600 in 2019.
Nearly half of overdose deaths in 2021 occurred with another person nearby who potentially could have intervened, according to the NCADD.
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