Life saving medicine for drug overdoses running short - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Life saving medicine for drug overdoses running short

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Every day 100 people die from drug overdoses. Here in Central Alabama, we've seen a big increase in heroin users over the past three to five years. Paramedics use a medication called "Naloxone - or Narcan" to revive them. Some states are considering making the meds public - even training law enforcement on how to use it. So far, it hasn't been opened up in Alabama, but it's used almost daily and saving countless lives.

Right now, there's a shortage of Naloxone - creating a concern if the medicine is made public. Rescue crews say if it runs out - that's a matter of life and death. 

"It saved my life and made me realize that the stuff I was doing was going to harm me or kill me," DeMario McFarland, a patient at Aletheia House said.

Demario McFarland's gang life started in elementary school. By 21, he was selling heroin. After an overdose, EMT's gave him Naloxone. The injection started his breath again.

"When the paramedics got there they put me in the truck and hit me with a dose of Narcan and I came right too and responded very well," McFarland said. 

"I feel like if they hadn't have used it, or someone wouldn't have been there with me, I would've died," he said.

"We can administer the Narcan, it reverses the effects and therefore saves their life," Lt. Rusy Lowe, Hoover Fire said.

Hoover fire tells us heroin overdoses have significantly gone up. Hoover uses Naloxone multiple times each month. Starting March first,  it will come in spray form for patients who no longer have veins for an i.v.

"We've experience medication shortages," Lowe said. "The manufacturers can't make enough Narcan to supply the United States and other parts of the world with it because the heroin use is at an all time high." 

"Because of the shortage, it's probably better left in the paramedics hands because they know how to use it, how to administer it," Dr. Mark Stafford, Bradford Health Services said.

Dr. Mark Stafford of Bradford Health Services sees overdoses daily. Most of Bradford's beds are full.

"Professionals, doctors, attorneys, kids from over the mountain," Dr. Stafford said. "No one is immune to this."

DeMario says thanks to the medication that saved his life,  and the Aletheia House, he's got a fresh start.

"I have goals that I have set for myself," McFarland said. "Working on getting my GED, getting to be a certified welder, and then getting a good job where I can take care of my family."

Dr. Stafford told us,  the biggest risk is for people who relapse. If they stopped using, then start again, the risk of an overdose - resulting in death is huge.

Here is a link to more information from the CDC: 

Bradford Health Services: 

Aletheia House:



 

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