In response to the growing opiate and heroin crisis, Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan and SUNY Orange have teamed up to provide Narcan training to the community college’s faculty and students. Narcan, also referred to as Naloxone, is the life-saving opiate overdose antidote, which can easily and effectively be administered as a nasal mist by a non-medical professional in a time of crisis.

Catholic Charities’ Narcan Training Coordinator, Susan Corbett, RN, CASAC, has hosted eight training sessions, with five more on the calendar, at the college’s campuses in both Middletown and Newburgh, as part of the training partnership between SUNY Orange’s Wellness Center and Catholic Charities. To date, 68 students and 18 staff have been trained and certified to administer Narcan. Most recently, Corbett trained 17 second-year dental hygiene students and three faculty members at the Middletown campus.

“Tragically, opiate addiction and overdose have reached epidemic proportions,” said Corbett. “You never know where you might encounter someone suffering an overdose – in a parking lot, a public bathroom, the library, or a fast food restaurant. Being trained and prepared with a Narcan kit gives a person the chance to save a life, to give someone a second chance. I applaud the students, faculty, and administration for their proactive approach to addressing the opiate issue head on.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, drug overdose deaths exceeded 59,000 in 2016. Of those, more than 33,000 were attributed to opioid drugs, including legal prescription painkillers, as well as illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under age 50. Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine. Together they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that is killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak.

Nearly one in every 12 high school students in Orange County has used Vicodin for non-medical purposes according to the Orange County Prescription Painkiller Safety Task Force.

Of those users, 70% stated they obtained the narcotic from a friend or relative. In Orange County, there were 76 reported overdose deaths in 2015, up from 53 in 2012. The hardest hit age group is 18 – 44.

Catholic Charities of Orange and Sullivan, one of the largest providers of addiction treatment services in the Hudson Valley, offers free Narcan training to schools, community groups, family, government and human service agencies, as well as anyone interested in saving a life with this overdose antidote. In a one hour training session, participants learn how to recognize the signs of an overdose and safely administer Narcan. Upon completion of the training, participants receive a two-dose nasal mist Narcan kit and a two-year certification.

“Calling 911 for support should always be a lay responder’s first step,” cautions Corbett.

“I’ve heard from some folks that they’re reluctant to get trained because they would be too nervous to respond if a situation arose. It’s important to remember that the nasal mist is very easy to administer, just like a sinus spray, and responders are protected by Good Samaritan laws. This is about saving lives and offering second chances,” added Corbett.

Upon being revived from an overdose, the individual should be taken to the hospital for care and evaluation and should be referred to an addiction services program for treatment.

To find out more about Catholic Charities’ free Narcan training or to schedule a session, contact Susan Corbett at susan.corbett@cccsos.org or 845.343.7675.

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