Naloxone addresses the Douglas County opioid epidemic

Naloxone is an emergency drug for anyone overdosing on opioids.

Posted: Nov. 16, 2017 5:45 PM
Updated: Nov. 20, 2017 12:32 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. - Many community members in Douglas County believe there is an opioid problem in the area, which can begin with a doctor's prescription and moves to street addiction.

There is a treatment option available: Naloxone. Its a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose by restarting a person's breathing and waking them up.

It can be administered in through an IV into the bloodstream, through a needle into the muscle, atomized into the nose or through a breathing tube.

Officials with the Roseburg Fire Department said this is something they've had access to and experience using for a while now. One paramedic, Sean Arrington, said some of those experiences can really stick with you.

"They're unconscious, they're blue in the face, not really breathing well, and you could wake them up like that," Arrington said. "And hopefully it's a sign for them that this isn't a good thing. So that sticks with you, the young people."

One family has now founded an organization called Max's Mission after they lost their son to an opioid overdose four and a half years ago. They lived in a rural area near Ashland where it took too long for the paramedics to reach them.

When Julia Pinsky, co-founder of Max's Misson, discovered Naloxone, she knew more people needed to know about it.

"Gosh, if we had had that, maybe it would've saved his life," Pinsky said. "And I realized that there's a lot of family's out there that may feel the same way."

Max's Mission travels around Southern Oregon, teaching people how to administer Naloxone and even allowing them to sign up to receive the drug for free.

But not everyone thinks this is a good way to treat the epidemic. Amy and Dana Hansen, who lost their daughter Callie Hansen to opioids, said they feel Naloxone wasn't helpful for her.

They got her a prescription for Suboxone, which contains Naloxone, after years of drug abuse. They felt the Suboxone was just a masking drug and it allowed her not to deal with the reasons she does opioids.

"If you're going to snap someone, bring them back from the jaws of death with a drug and not deal with why they just died, then you're going to do it all over again," Dana Hansen said.

The Hansens said they do feel it's better to save a life than not, but they feel treatment needs to be administered after using Naloxone. In the case of Suboxone, they feel it should only be used in a controlled setting like a treatment center.

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