NARCAN (naloxone) will now be issued to all Mattapoisett Police Officers. Although the Mattapoisett Police Department has carried NARCAN on its ambulances for decades, the increase in opioid overdoses in Mattapoisett has increased drastically over the past few years prompting this proactive step of outfitting each Officer with NARCAN.
The opioid epidemic continues to increase and stretch across the United States and is not isolated to the larger communities and cities. In 2017, the Mattapoisett Police Department responded to approximately 20 opiate drug overdoses both non-fatal and fatal requiring the administration of NARCAN. As of January 23, 2018, the Mattapoisett Police Department has responded to four opioid overdoses already this year, all requiring the administration of NARCAN. The rise in overdoses is believed to be associated with the increase exposure and presence of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic (manmade) opioid that is very similar to morphine. However, it is reported that fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than heroin and morphine. Due to the increase of fentanyl use by drug dealers, it is difficult to immediately determine if the substance is heroin, fentanyl, or a mix of the two or other opioids. This unknown factor is a major contributor to the increase in opioid overdoses.
Similar to other drugs, fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne, and due to its high potency it can be lethal in very small doses. As a result, police departments have seen an increase in overdoses including overdoses of police officers and first responders due to accidental exposures of fentanyl.
NARCAN is highly successful in reversing opioid overdoses and the police officers of the Mattapoisett Police Department will now be able to provide quicker treatment prior to the arrival of the ambulance increasing the chance of survival.
The Mattapoisett Police Department is part of the Plymouth County Outreach Program, which is a collaboration of Public Safety Agencies and Healthcare Providers. This program was created to help battle the ever-increasing opioid epidemic. Following an opioid overdose, a police follow-up visit is conducted within 12-24 hours offering guidance and possible treatment options. The program is not limited to individuals addicted to opiates, but it is also for anyone impacted by addiction.
Any family or individual experiencing or associated with opioid addiction is encouraged to obtain their own supply of NARCAN, which could be lifesaving to a family member or friend.