HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The opioid epidemic is a crisis across the country, including in Connecticut. The state’s Department of Health says there were more than 1,200 confirmed overdose deaths last year, with 93% involving opioids.
Now, two women in Hartford are making a grassroots effort to save lives. Community activist Kamora Herrington and licensed therapist Erin Doolittle are trying to prevent opioid overdoses by hosting a NARCAN training in Hartford.
They say cases are on the rise, and they’re hearing personal stories multiple times a week. In response, they plan to distribute NARCAN, a drug that reverses an overdose when injected.
“Someone comes in with a story about, ‘my uncle found someone overdosed,’ or ‘my mother,’ or ‘my friend walked into the bathroom at work, and they didn’t know what to do,’” Doolittle said.
“People are dying, and there’s a way for them not to die,” Herrington said.
That way is by using NARCAN, also known as Naloxone, slows an overdose situation so a victim can receive more medical treatment.
Herrington and Doolittle are distributing 50 NARCAN kits because they say overdoses can happen in private and public spaces.
“Often, it’s an accident,” Doolittle said. “People don’t even think about mixing their medications.”
Courtney Dollar with the Connecticut Harm Reduction Alliance tracks hotspots across the state. She says while NARCAN isn’t easily accessible, more people should know how to use it.
“Naloxone is very easy to administer,” Dollar said. “I think a lot of people are afraid to respond to an overdose. The good Samaritan law protects you, so if you do respond to an overdose and that person, unfortunately, doesn’t make it, you are protected.”
Herrington says as much as the training is about saving lives, it’s also about erasing the stigma.
“A big piece of the stigma is that bad people do drugs, that people who do drugs have a whole world of options out there, but for whatever reason, they’re choosing drugs,” Herrington said.
Herrington and Doolittle are hosting the free training for anyone 18 and older on February 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 12 Charter Oak Place in Hartford. To register, email email@example.com.