More than 1,000 lives have been saved through the Arkansas Naloxone Project, which provides Naloxone (often referred by the brand name Narcan) kits to first responders across the state. Beyond saving a life, first responders are tasked to provide treatment and recovery resources, and the data advances education efforts about opioid addiction in Arkansas.
The number one priority is to save that person’s life and it’s not just the humanity aspect of why we do this,” said Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane, who works with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services. “Keeping people breathing that have overdosed for whatever reason gives that person a second chance to seek treatment and recovery. With recovery capabilities available now in the state, sustaining sobriety is a reality.”
The Arkansas Naloxone Project kicked off October 2016 with the training of law enforcement agencies, rural fire and EMS organizations, school nurses, librarians, and treatment and recovery facilities, on how to correctly administer naloxone. At the end of the training, they received naloxone kits, which included a nasal form of naloxone called Narcan, an FDA-approved medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid-induced overdose.
The Arkansas Naloxone Project is a partnership among the State Drug Director’s Office, DHS, and the Criminal Justice Institute along with hundreds of trained first responders. The kits are funded through federal grants and private grants like the Arkansas Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. Additionally, in 2020, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a standing order allowing Arkansas-licensed pharmacists to sell naloxone to people who have friends and loved ones at risk of overdosing, and Arkansas Code Annotated 20-13-604 provides immunity from civil liability to those who administer naloxone during an overdose.
“Too many families in Arkansas have experienced the loss of a loved one due to an opioid overdose,” said Criminal Justice Director Dr. Cheryl May. “By equipping first responders with naloxone, additional lives can be saved, and families can be spared this loss.”
To help people administer the medication, the State Drug Director’s Office and Criminal Justice Institute created the nARcansas app, which is a free opioid overdose resource that provides steps on how to administer a life-saving dose of naloxone as well as other valuable resources about opioids. The app includes voice directions in English and Spanish for administering naloxone. To download the app, go Google Play or the Apple App Store. To learn more about the State’s efforts to combat opioid abuse, go to artakeback.org. To get mental health or addiction help for yourself or a loved one in Arkansas, please call 1-844-763-0198.