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Addiction in Franklin County

G-M nurses to get Narcan

TURNERS FALLS — Following a vote Tuesday night by the School Committee, the heroin and pill overdose antidote Narcan will join the epinephrine and defibrillators in the life-saving toolkit in the Gill-Montague Regional School District.

Turners Falls High School nurse Barbara Fish brought the proposal to the meeting, where it met with unanimous approval.

Fish said Dr. Ruth Potee, a local physician and member of the Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force, had approached her and the school nurses and doctors of other districts with the proposal.

“She would like to get Narcan in the schools as an emergency medication, similar to an EpiPen for a bee sting or a food allergy,” Fish said. “There’s nothing bad about it, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t bring it in.”

Fish said Narcan has no negative complications and will have no effect on someone who isn’t overdosing on heroin or other opioids.

“Even where an EpiPen can affect you if you have an underlying heart condition, this has no effect,” she said.

Narcan, or naloxone hydrochloride, is an aggressive but temporary antidote to opioid overdoses. Opioids can slow a user’s breathing until it stops and they die. Narcan elbows opioids out of the receptors they occupy in the brain and reverses the effect, although this will often fade before the opioids do.

In the form widely available through a free state program, the form Fish said the district will use, Narcan is a simple nasal spray. It requires a very brief training and no prescription, and can be obtained from Tapestry Health in Greenfield by appointment — 413-773-8888.

Fish said the school has already brought in three recovering addicts from the RECOVER Project in Greenfield to share their experience of addiction with high schoolers, and Potee and the Greenfield Chief of Police Robert Haigh to talk to both the middle and high school students, and sent a notice home urging parents to dispose of unneeded painkillers. The school also brought in Ray Charles’ daughter, recovering from a cocaine addiction, to speak last week.

“We’re trying to do our part in the school. T his is just another layer of safety,” Fish said.

Fish said she believed one other district has adopted the Narcan proposal, and Potee was bringing it to all.

Franklin County is suffering from a steep increase in addiction, overdoses, and the other damage of heroin and opioid painkiller abuse.

“I believe you’re all aware issues of drug overdose have been in the news across the state and locally. I just heard about a recent tragedy in Gill, so this stuff is hitting close to home,” said Superintendent Michael Sullivan.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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