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Pandemic increases overdose deaths, Narcan will help

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -Berrien County is fighting overdose deaths and they say the pandemic has caused a big increase in drug use.

That means more people are dying from substance use disorders

Tuesday is International Overdose Awareness Day, and in Berrien County they’re making sure people have the tools to save lives if people overdose.

“All of the counties in Michigan have partnered with their local pharmacies to distribute free Narcan kits,” Lisa Peeples-Hurst says. She is a Substance Use Prevention Specialist with the Berrien County Health Department.

We grabbed a kit today and they were free at Walgreens in Niles and Stevensville. It’s a way to combat the opioid epidemic here in Michiana.

“Back in 2015 Berrien County was fourth in the state in overdose deaths,” Peeples-Hurst says.

According to the Berrien County Health Department, Last year, 2,684 Michigan residents died from drug overdoses that’s a 14% increase over 2019, with 42.5% of those individuals being black. If you didn’t get a free kit today, you can still get one.

“Here at the health department, we offer a free Narcan training, we have an expedited training, which is about 20-30 minutes, where we just go over some of the tactics that are used,” Peeples-Hurst says.

You can get a free Narcan kit after the class.

Th Berrien County Health Department says nationally there was a record 93,000 people across the United States dying of drug overdoses in 2020. In Berrien County, drug overdose deaths increased from 15 deaths in 2019 to 18 deaths in 2020.

So that Narcan kit is a tool that can save lives. It’s a simple nasal spray that can save someone from being another victim of the opioid epidemic, and saving a life before time runs out.

“This can pop it’s head anywhere and right now our message is to save a life. Once we save the life we can then work with that person to get the resources that they need for that not to happen again. So we just want to make sure that we are that step, and that people realize that Narcan can really help,” Peeples-Hurst says.

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