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Guest Column: Naloxone Leave Behind helps first responders save lives

This July 3, 2018 file photo shows a Narcan nasal device which delivers naloxone in the Brooklyn borough of New York. On Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, health officials reported that prescriptions of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone are soaring, and experts say that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

This July 3, 2018 file photo shows a Narcan nasal device which delivers naloxone in the Brooklyn borough of New York. On Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, health officials reported that prescriptions of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone are soaring, and experts say that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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Rachel Garcia, Bureau Chief, EMS and Trauma System AZDHS (Photo/AZDHS)

Naloxone Leave Behind, a program administered by ADHS, helps Arizona emergency responders save lives by providing lifesaving naloxone to administer or leave behind when responding to opioid overdoses.

State law permits EMS agencies to leave behind pre-packaged, intranasal naloxone (Narcan®) if an emergency medical care technician determines that it can be used in the future by the at-risk person, family members, or friends to reverse an opioid overdose. First responders often are in the best position to prevent opioid-related deaths by administering naloxone and recognizing those who may be at risk.

That’s why the Bureau of EMS & Trauma System is encouraging EMS and law enforcement agencies to check out azhealth.gov/naloxone to learn about the Naloxone Leave Behind program and how to order naloxone at no cost through ADHS. The website offers resources including online training on the state of the opioid epidemic, recognizing opioid use and overdose, identifying conditions that may mimic opioid overdose, naloxone administration, and help available for those experiencing opioid use disorder.

It’s among the strong steps Arizona has taken to combat the opioid crisis since Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency in 2017. Others include new rules for licensed health care facilities, pain management clinics, and sober living homes, educating health care providers on responsible prescribing practices, expanding treatment resources, and using an opioid surveillance system to track reported overdoses, naloxone prescriptions, and naloxone use by first responders.

The Naloxone Leave Behind program and naloxone supplies for Arizona EMS and law enforcement agencies are offered through a First Responders Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (FR-CARA) grant.

EMS and law enforcement in Arizona have reported more than 9,600 responses for suspected opioid overdoses in 2022. Naloxone was administered in over 80% of non-fatal suspected overdose responses in 2022, according to reports received from EMTs, paramedics, and law enforcement.

The ADHS opioid dashboard shows there have been 1,504 confirmed opioid deaths so far in Arizona in 2022 – about five each day. Additionally, there were 20,935 emergency and inpatient hospital visits involving a suspected drug overdose in 2022.

If you are experiencing opioid use disorder or know someone who is, confidential help is available by calling OARLine at 1-888-688-4222.

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