Rep. John Taylor to Host Meeting on Saving Lives with Narcan
On Thursday, February 23th, in conjunction with Prevention Point Philadelphia and Clean and Sober Radio, Rep. John Taylor of the 177th District will be hosting a meeting that will provide training on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose by utilizing the newly introduced opioid response drug Narcan. The meeting is being held on the second floor of St. Anne’s Social Hall (2328 E. Lehigh Ave.) and will run from 6-8PM.
Narcan (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. Opioids include heroin and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin. When a person is overdosing on an opioid, breathing can slow down or stop. Narcan is a medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose.
According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, opioid-related deaths in Philadelphia have spiked in recent years. For example, there were nearly 700 such deaths in 2015, which is double the rate of deaths by homicide in the same year.
“Opioid addiction is a well documented, widespread public health crisis, and narcotics overdose is on the rise not just on the streets of neighborhoods most hard hit by addiction, but unfortunately in schools and homes,” Rep. Taylor told Spirit News. “Knowing how to access and administer Narcan to someone who is overdosing could potentially save the life of a stranger, but more and more frequently, save the life of a loved one.”
Rep. Taylor is an advocate of the use of Narcan in combatting the ongoing struggle against opioid addiction and overdose. The growing opioid problem in the area has resulted in policies surrounding the issue being of top priority.
“Opioid addiction is, sadly, an epidemic that does not discriminate upon who it inflicts. In the past few years, I have started a series of events called a ‘Path to Recovery’, whereupon we bring together all of the available resources for those in the throes of addiction, as well as the family members affected by substance dependency,” Rep. Taylor said.
He added: “In addition, we in the House of Representatives are attempting to find and implement ways to reach our youth to keep them from drug use, as well as researching ways to bring down demand. This struggle is constant, and we have to remain vigilant in our efforts as the cost for losing this battle is human life.”
As of February 2015, Narcan was introduced to law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS personnel in Philadelphia to administer in case of overdose emergencies. Since its introduction, Narcan has saved the lives of more than 2,300 people in Pennsylvania who have suffered an opiate overdose, which proves the effectiveness of this drug in fighting addiction.
“The City of Philadelphia began dispensing Narcan to the police in February of 2015, and we have already seen a reduction in overdose deaths within the City of Philadelphia and the neighboring suburbs,” Rep Taylor said.
Currently, only 15 percent of police vehicles are commissioned to carry a supply of Narcan with them on patrol. However, Governor Tom Wolf of Philadelphia has included in his budget a $10 million proposal that would equip first responders with Narcan and would dramatically raise the number of police that are able to carry the drug with them while on patrol.
Narcan is universally respected and is seen by many as a step in the right direction in dealing with and combating opioid addiction.
“I have found that this is not a Republican or Democrat solution. This [Narcan] is a necessary tool to save lives,” Rep. Taylor told Spirit News.
The meeting being held by Rep. Taylor at St. Anne’s Social Hall offers an opportunity to gain more information about Narcan. Rep. Taylor will be presenting information on how to access Narcan at both a public and private level. Handouts and educational materials will be provided on how to have this discussion with your doctor, pharmacist and health insurance provider, while also providing information on nonprofits, and both city and state agencies that can help as well.
“We’ve all dealt with situations where we don’t want to admit or believe that someone we love may have a problem. With this meeting we give them an opportunity to see that they are not alone and to connect with resources they may need,” Rep. Taylor said.
He added: “If we are able reach one person or offer them some relief knowing that they now have the tools to possibly save the life of a loved one, I consider that a success.”
The meeting is being held in conjunction with Prevention Point Philadelphia. Founded in 1991, the organization has helped thousands of syringe users to safely and legally exchange syringes with the successful Syringe Exchange Program, thus helping fight the spread of diseases such as HIV, AIDS and hepatitis as well as other blood-borne diseases.
Prevention Point’s work and efforts to fight opioid addiction is greatly appreciated by the state and the local community.
“Prevention Point has been a wonderful resource for not only the community but for my office and staff in general,” Rep. Taylor told Spirit News. “I think being on the front lines, dealing with an afflicted population on a daily basis, and then on top of that being generous with their own personal time to do an education session for the public is extremely useful.”
Opioid addiction is an extremely harmful disease and fighting this epidemic is essential and in the interests of all.
The meeting on February 23th provides an opportunity for further education surrounding the issue and addresses the importance of the use of Narcan in this ongoing struggle.
“We aim to have an open and honest discussion about addiction along with the acknowledgement that opioid addiction touches the lives of so many people of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds and that there are people, including my District offices, willing to listen and help,” Rep. Taylor said. •