Use of Narcan Results in Drop in Overdose Deaths in Westchester County

Training citizens how to administer Narcan could potentially save dozens of lives each year in Westchester county. (Photo: Freddy Velasquez)

by Dana Hirsch


Heroin and opioid-related deaths are declining in Westchester County as the use of Narcan, also called Naloxone, as an antidote becomes more common, according to The Journal News.

According to stopoverdoseil.org, Narcan is an opiate antidote that can save a person who overdoses on heroin and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, and Vicodin.

“There are people who have had problems with anxiety and they take opioids for the first time and they feel normal; it makes them feel good,” said Janice Gilroy, health services coordinator at WCC.

According to Gilroy, substance abuse affects all socioeconomic groups. Especially as WCC students, attending classes at an institution that provides education for more than 24,000 students, according to the WCC website, awareness of how to administer Narcan and potentially save lives can make a great impact.

“Last year we had two trainings for staff and some students and the phys-ed department […] did a training there twice,” Gilroy said. “I really wanted to get faculty, staff, and security guards trained because we’re always here.”

According to Gilroy, she plans to hold a training session this year as well, however, this time it should be primarily for students.

“I would like to get our staff at the radio station trained,” said Jade Watts, Program Director of The New Sound Power 88.1.

As active college students, we are especially at risk of coming in contact with opioid abuse.

“Many people are being prescribed opioids for sports injuries,” Gilroy said. “When you go to the dentist now they will prescribe Vicodin or similar type medications and some people are very susceptible to becoming addicted. Especially if they have anxiety which a lot of college students have, they’ll take opioid for the first time.”

It also affects elderly people, according to Gilroy.

“They get prescribed medications for pain and they don’t remember whether they took it or not and they [get] other medications-they can overdose easily, too,” Gilroy said.

Providing free training for WCC students on campus would enable them to administer Narcan to any person in need on campus or in their communities.

“The declines in opioid deaths followed dramatic spikes in the deadly epidemic, including a 200 percent spike in Westchester between 2010 and 2015, from 27 deaths to 83,” wrote David Robinson, an investigative health reporter for The Journal News in a recent article.

According to The Journal News, opioid-related deaths in Westchester dropped significantly from 83 deaths to 59 between 2015 and 2016.

“The amount of people who have been saved by narcan is actually incredible,” Gilroy said.

By bringing this knowledge about a life-saving antidote to campus, students could actively take part in spreading awareness.

“Westchester’s law enforcement use of naloxone more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, rising from 44 to 110,” says data released by the state Department of Health. “EMS use of naloxone in Westchester increased from 378 to 406 in the same period.”

According to Gilroy, now if a first responder shows up and the person isn’t responding, they administer narcan immediately.

“There are no side effects, no downside,” said Kerry Pohar, WCC staff nurse.

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