MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- The office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is providing $264,500 worth of Narcan rescue kits to the 17 counties across the state with the highest overdose death rates.
Narcan is one of two drugs that can reverse a heroin overdose.
This is part of Coffman’s initiative announced in September called ‘The Colorado Naloxne for Life Initiative.’
Coffman hopes to curb the rising rates of overdose deaths statewide. She said that counties in Colorado rank among the highest in the nation.
Additionally, all but one Colorado county, has seen an a upward trend in these type of deaths, resulting in a 68 percent increase state-wide.
It takes high level EMT-level training to inject Naloxone. However, just under a year ago the FDA expedited the process for the easy-to-use nasal spray called Narcan to help treat opioid overdoses.
“With the Grand Junction Fire Department, any basic-level EMT can administer Narcan inter-nasally,” said Matthew Bollig, an EMT-I with the Grand Junction Fire Department.
Between 2010 and 2014 Mesa County also saw nearly 50 percent more hospitalizations than the state average, from what are being called “intentional” overdoses -- meaning the user was attempting to get high from the drugs.
“Right now we have a crisis, with people dying of these overdoses and we simply have to reduce that,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “We do think we are a trafficking destination, and there is a demand here for the drugs.”
With overdoses on the rise, a life-saving drug already used by local EMTs — will soon be in the hands of more first responders.
"We are really trying to get law enforcement and first responders using Narcan because it does bring people back from the brink of death,” said Coffman.
With a large stock of Narcan now on hand, local law enforcement will be able to carry it in the near future, but the work is not done.
“We are helping at one end of a crisis and we want our partners in local communities to be looking at prevention efforts,” said Coffman. "Somebody treated comes that close to death, is a wake-up call for them to get in to some form of treatment. An opportunity to get folks to care to talk about how dangerous the addiction is.”
The money for the new drugs did not come from taxpayers; it’s being sourced from court settlements with pharmaceutical companies, and is meant to be used specially for public health issues.
Narcan and Naloxone are also currently available in local pharmacies, and the attorney general is hoping to drive prices of Narcan down in our communities.
Coffman encourages concerned friends and family members of heroin users to obtain the reverse-action drug and learn how to use it.