UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Heroin and opiate related deaths have increased locally, nationally and even internationally, giving ACR Health or Access Care and Resources for Health, the mission to combat the fatal overdoses related to the drug.
On Thursday, March 20, ACR held a press conference at its headquarters on Columbia Street in Utica regarding their public health initiative to educate and dispense Narcan to public health officials and community members interested in learning.
Narcan is a prescription drug that many consider lifesaving.
Erin Bortel, the Director of Prevention for ACR Health said, "There has been significant evidence internationally that this program, in terms of training community members to carry Narcan kits saves lives. That's our mission to further that public health message."
Narcan prevents opiate and heroin overdoses from becoming fatal. The prescription medication is said to reverse an overdose by blocking heroin or other opiates in the brain for 30 to 90 minutes. It counteracts the drug. Narcan was not legal until a law that took effect on April 1, 2006 allowing non-medical personnel to administer the prescription drug.
Melissa, a mother of a former heroin addict attended the meeting. She didn't want her last name used due to the situation. Her daughter lost her life to drug addiction.
Melissa spoke about her child's seemingly normal life, and how she had never expected her daughter to fall into the world of drugs. After losing her daughter at the age of 19, Melissa made it her mission to educate the public on drug use and Narcan.
Melissa believes if Narcan had been used at the time of her daughter's overdose, she would still be here.
"It's amazing. I think it's going to save lives and is so important for anyone and their family or an acquaintance that they know is using heroin," Melissa said. "Or other prescription drugs to have it readily available."
Those available to train and offer an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program are hospitals, clinics, health care practitioners, drug treatment programs, community-based organizations and local health departments.
ACR Health has staff in nine counties to train responders about Narcan. The New York State Department of Health approved the organization to operate the prevention program.