INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana University-led partnership is bringing training sessions to Indianapolis this week on how to administer a medication that can reverse potentially fatal overdoses from opioid painkillers and heroin.
Nearly two out of three Indiana residents knows someone battling addiction, according to a new study by Indiana University's Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge Initiative.
IU is responding to these findings by hosting a free event Friday, September 28th, to help arm everyone with a life-saving tool.
An Indianapolis man that now works at IU Health as a Peer Recovery Coach knows the addiction battle all too well.
"I am an addict myself in recovery, on December 11th, I have 12 years," says Andrew Gaddie, a recovering addict, and IU Health Peer Recovery Coach. "I actually have 25 years of active addiction, which was alcohol, cocaine, and heroin."
At IU Health's Emergency Department at Methodist Hospital, Gaddie helps addicts when they land in the emergency room. He says many of these patients only making it to the hospital because they used Narcan.
"If it weren't there, I wouldn't be able to tell you that they are still here today," states Gaddie. "So as long as they are here, there is hope, that is the big thing, there is hope."
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug used to treat an opioid overdose.
"I am just glad it is there, so when they are given these chances it may not be the first time, it may not be the second or third or fourth, but there is still time," explains Gaddie.
Dr. Dallas Peak from IU Health has seen the opioid epidemic plague too many families, and he says, Narcan can save lives.
Narcan is essentially a life-saving therapy that can be administered by anybody on the scene to help reverse the effects of opiates," explains Dr. Peak.
Opiates enter into the bloodstream and latch onto brain receptors.
"While they are bound to these opiate receptors, essentially what happens is it starts to shut us down," says Dr. Peak. "And we go to sleep, and actually worse than that we can stop breathing. And that is why people die from an overdose."
However, Naloxone has the power to reverse a life-threatening overdose.
"What Narcan does is it enters the bloodstream, goes to the very same receptor, and actually knocks the opiate off and binds to it extremely tightly in order to reverse those side effects," says Dr. Peak. "So when someone who has had an opioid overdose, they can wake up and start breathing on their own. The most important thing to remember if that happens, you need to call 911 because there are a lot of steps that need to be done to help that individual."
Dr. Peak says someone who is not breathing can start to die within five minutes, but Narcan starts working within seconds to help reverse that process and save a life.
"It is like insurance, it is better to have it and not use it than to need it and not have it," says Gaddie. "Every house should have some because you never know when that time comes when you are going to need it."
Dr. Peak and Gaddie have the same plea for everyone to carry Narcan and learn to use it.
"Lives are valuable, regardless if they are addicts or not," explains Gaddie. "Because every life is precious, it is a mother, a father, you know, it is someone's kids."
Free Naloxone kits will be provided by IU Health staff at several locations across Indianapolis on Friday, Sept. 28. This Narcan distribution will also include a 20-minute training session conducted by Overdose Lifeline, Inc. Training will be conducted every 40 minutes at the library branch locations and at 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. at the IUPUI location.
The full Overdose Reversal Training and Free Naloxone Kit event will be held Friday, September 28 from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the following locations:
You can contact Overdose Lifeline at (844)554-3354 or the Marion County Health Department at (317)221-4622 to receive a free Naloxone kit if they are available. Naloxone can be purchased at most pharmacies. You should call ahead to assure they have Naloxone in stock. More Naloxone resources can be found at https://optin.in/gov/.