The Shippensburg University Connection Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Program hosted a free Narcan training event Wednesday evening in the hockey rink.
The Connection AOD Program partnered with the Recovery, Advocacy, Service and Empowerment (RASE) Project to hold the event. RASE, is a nonprofit that serves as a resource for those struggling with substance abuse.
Mike Boyer, the education and advocacy coordinator for RASE, led the event.
“All the employees at RASE have some type of addiction story,” Boyer said. “Those experiences allow us to help others who are struggling effectively.”
For most of the presentation, Boyer focused on Naloxone, commonly called Narcan, which is a medication designed to treat victims of an opioid overdose. When administered properly, Narcan has an 85% success rate for reversing overdoses in Cumberland County, according to RASE.
Boyer gave a demonstration on how to properly administer Narcan, and all who attended the event received two free doses of Narcan in case they encountered someone who overdosed.
As of Sept. 3, there have been 45 overdose deaths in Cumberland County this year, according to the Cumberland County Coroner. That is the same number of overdose deaths that occurred in the county in all of 2019.
“I honestly think that’s because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Boyer said. “Isolation is addiction’s counterpart.”
Boyer said the pandemic’s many effects contributed to the rise in opioid use.
“People losing jobs, having too much time on their hands and the pandemic’s uncertainty causing stress are all reasons we’ve seen a rise in opioid use this year,” Boyer said.
One of the more common overdose drugs in the Shippensburg area is heroin. Although on its own heroin is highly addictive and dangerous, Boyer said pure heroin is rarely found anymore. Today, heroin is commonly mixed with fentanyl, another powerful opioid. Fentanyl can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“Fentanyl is everywhere,” Boyer said. “The fentanyl dosage in opioids in this area is very inconsistent.”
With all the factors in the Shippensburg area and what the current death rate is for overdoses, RASE estimates that Cumberland County is on track for more than 60 overdose deaths in 2020.