Last week, the Eden Prairie Police Department wrote this blog post about #NOverdose – a new effort to slow down the increase in opioid overdoses, after 144 deaths in Hennepin County alone last year.
Hours after that post went up, Eden Prairie officers found a man unconscious on the ground and struggling to breathe, and had to give him an overdose reversal drug that likely saved his life.
The department detailed the lifesaving efforts in a blog post Wednesday. It was about 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 when officers saw suspicious behavior in a car wash parking lot. They found two men outside of a car – one was on the ground, unconscious, sweating heavily and had labored breathing.
The second man, standing above, told officers his companion on the ground hadn't taken any drugs. But officers, in addition to the signs of an opioid overdose, also noticed a needle on the ground next to him.
Other responders arrived and gave the man a naloxone spray in the nose – within a few minutes, he was conscious again, then was taken to the hospital.
Naloxone's increasing use
Naloxone – which you sometimes see referred to as the brand name Narcan – has become a key part of drug overdose response in the country in recent years. It works quickly, and can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes, as was on display in Eden Prairie.
This North Carolina group said that as of Dec. 6, 2016, more than 1,200 law enforcement programs in the U.S. were using naloxone. They list 13 in Minnesota, though that's definitely missing some. Their list doesn't include Eden Prairie police or Duluth police, for example.
The White House, under President Barack Obama, showed support for improving access to the overdose reversal drug. Current President Donald Trump, while running for office, said his plan would widely distribute naloxone to first responders around the country.
Eden Prairie police said that since 2011, the city has seen eight overdose deaths, and seven overdose where the person survived – three times, naloxone was given.
Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows there were 572 drug overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2015 – that was up 11 percent from 2014, when there were 516.
In the Twin Cities specifically, this report found that heroin and methamphetamine were the biggest problem drugs in 2015.
Minnesota has a good Samaritan overdose law – meaning if you're with someone, and that person has an overdose, you can call 911 or get medical assistance and neither you nor the person who needs help will face criminal drug charges for that incident.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a website that shows residential, outpatient and hospital inpatient treatment program locations.
And the the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) also offers help, and can connect people with resources nearby.
You can also call the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration hotline at 1-800-662-4357, any time of the day, and day of the year.