In just six short years, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses doubled from about 20,000 in 2010 to 40,000 in 2016.
Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is attributing this extreme rise of deaths in relation to the popularity of fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin, and 100 times more potent than morphine.
In a recent release, the surgeon general urged the public to lend a helping hand, but some local emergency services experts think the general public having access to this might not be the best option.
“I don't know if it would be a good idea for the general public, but certainly expanding the availability and the number of folks trained in administration is good,” said Justin Grohs.
Possible concerns include what happens when a person does come out of an opioid overdose because of Narcan. People can be violent, unruly, and uncooperative, and this might not be what a Good Samaritan is expecting.
“However, you need to ask, 'Would I rather have a breathing unruly patient or a non-unruly not breathing dead patient?'” said Grohs.
Both Great Falls police and the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office agreed and said people can get uncooperative, but Sheriff Bob Edwards said expanding the availability of Narcan is needed. He hopes to have it in the sheriff’s office as well as the jail in the future.
There is one upside for Montanans, the state is ahead of the game when it comes to this national crisis.
“Montana lawmakers have put the wheels in motion for Narcan to be available to other folks besides healthcare professionals, so that’s good stuff. And if folks get the right training and use it properly, it will only help,” said Grohs.
Anyone in the Missoula area can get safe injection supplies and learn more about NarCan by calling or visiting the Open Aid Alliance, a nonprofit that confidentially helps clients.
Some CVS pharmacies also offer Narcan over-the-counter; click here for more information on how it's used and other things you can do to rescue someone in an overdose.