YORKVILLE – The Kendall County Health Department is offering naloxone – the lifesaving nasal spray used to treat persons who have overdosed on opioids – to the general public at no cost.
Better known by the brand name Narcan, the product is used to reverse opioid drug overdoses from the use of heroin or other prescription pain medications.
Until now, the county was providing Narcan only to police, firefighter-paramedics and other first responders.
When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and quickly restores breathing, health department Director RaeAnn VanGundy told the Kendall County Board on July 19.
The nasal spray can be applied by anyone, VanGundy said.
“There is no harm to administer it,” VanGundy said. “You’re going to save a life.”
VanGundy said family members of opioid users are encouraged to get a Narcan kit, as well as owners of restaurants and taverns and other businesses.
“You never know when you are going to need it,” VanGundy said.
County Board members agreed.
“I think it’s something everyone should have behind the counter,” board member Dan Koukol said.
When someone who has a family member with an opioid problem is seeking a Narcan kit, health department workers will provide information on treatment and counseling services that are available, VanGundy said.
The health department also offers training sessions on the use of naloxone to businesses or community groups in the county, VanGundy said.
An opioid overdose may be suspected when a person is sleepy or unresponsive, breathing has slowed or stopped, pupils are tiny, lips or nails are blue or gray and skin feels cold or clammy, VanGundy said.
The Narcan kits come with easy-to-read directions on the box, VanGundy said, emphasizing that the drug will do no harm.
The nasal spray is effective in treating only opioid overdoses, VanGundy said.
Naloxone will not reverse overdoses caused by nonopioid drugs, including cocaine, alcohol and methamphetamines. Nor is the nasal spray effective against overdoses caused by benzodiazepines, including brand-name drugs such as Xanax, Klonopin and Valium.
The county is receiving the Narcan kits directly from the state of Illinois, VanGundy said.
In response to a question from a board member, VanGundy said those administering the drug are asked to complete and submit a form to help the county collect data on opioid use, but added that she is well aware that those forms will not always be filled out.
“It’s more important to get the Narcan into people’s hands,” VanGundy said.
Supplies are limited, so those interested in obtaining a Narcan kit are advised to call ahead to the health department at 630-553-9100.
Source: The Daily Chronicle