Narcan nasal spray is a safe and easy preventative of death for those overdosing from opioid.| Photo by T.William Wallin

Preventing death

HSU is taking the initiative to prevent opioid overdoses with Narcan training
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HSU is taking the initiative to prevent opioid overdoses with Narcan training

Hold it like a cigarette, shove it up the nostril as far as you can and blast the plunger. These are the directions on how to properly administer Narcan nasal spray to a person overdosing on opioids.

Ocean Capewell, masters of social work and intern for HSU Health and Well Being, and Mira Friedman, lead for Health Education and Medical Clinic Support Services at HSU, hosted the second-ever Narcan training at HSU on March 11.

“As far as we know there are no other CSU campuses that offer this type of training,” Capewell said. “This is new to Humboldt and very exciting.”

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Ocean Capewell, masters of social work intern for HSU health and well being, and Mira Friedman, Lead for Health Education and Medical Clinic Support Services at HSU, hold a box of Narcan nasal spray at the second ever Narcan training at HSU on March 11 2019. | Photo by T.William Wallin

Narcan is generic for the drug Naloxone which Capewell said is an opioid antagonist. Capewell said our brains have opioid receptors and Naloxone confuses the receptors so they do not attach to opioids coming into the brain. The easiest form of Naloxone, demonstrated by Capewell and Friedman during the training, is through a nasal spray. Capewell said they wanted to have “the lowest barrier form” on campus so anybody can use it.

“It is very safe and has had no problems for people using it,” Capewell said. “It is only useful for people using opioids but more important it’s for loved ones, house mates and friends to have. Once you overdose you wont be able to administer it yourself.”

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Narcan nasal spray is a safe and easy preventative of death for those overdosing from opioid. | Photo by T.William Wallin

Capewell instructed those at the training on what to do when someone is overdosing. Capewell said to first call 911 and then hold the Narcan nasal spray in between two fingers so you don’t accidentally deploy it. Next you place the spray as far up the nostril as you can and hit the button. Capewell said “they don’t have to be breathing” for the spray to work because it gets in the mucous membrane. Afterwards lay them on their back and apply rescue breathing, which is two quick breaths and then one breath every five seconds for the next two minutes.

“Eureka police just got Narcan and saved someone over the weekend. The Eureka library has saved someone recently who was using in the bathroom. It’s pretty amazing.”

Mira Friedman

“They are going to feel terrible when they wake up,” Capewell said. “They will most likely be withdrawing, which is one of the worst experiences a person can have. They may be vomiting, shaking and unable to control their bowel movements but they’ll be alive.”

Friedman said Naloxene distribution began in 2003, and within the first year overdose deaths decreased by 42 percent. Friedman said local distributors in Humboldt County include Public Health North Coast Aids Project, Redwoods Rural Health Center, Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction (HACHR), and Cloney’s Pharmacy.

“Eureka police just got Narcan and saved someone over the weekend,” Friedman said. “The Eureka library has saved someone recently who was using in the bathroom. It’s pretty amazing.”

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Ocean Capewell, masters of social work intern for HSU health and well being, during the second Narcan training at HSU. | Photo by T.William Wallin

Friedman said that there is a stereotype of people who use opioids as all needle users or living on the street. She said that 40 percent of opioid overdoses involved a prescription drug and that really challenges the myths and stigmas revolving around opioid addiction. Friedman also said that Naloxene is not treatment but something used to prevent death.

“We’re interested in giving people information on harm reduction like data and statistics,” Friedman said. “Especially being in Humboldt because this issue is so great.”

Psychology senior Victor Ahumada was one of the attendees at the training and said he was there because he knows there is an opioid crisis, especially in Humboldt. Ahumada said when there are available trainings he wants to take advantage of them. Although he has never dealt with anybody overdosing, Ahumada now carries Narcan with him just in case.

“I think this is something everyone should know about,” Ahumada said. “Everyone may not necessarily have to carry Narcan but they should know this is a huge problem. It’s important to be aware and be a part of the prevention.”

The next Narcan trainings will be held in April:

Tuesday, April 6 at 12 p.m. Nelson Hall room 106

Tuesday, April 23 at 5 p.m. Library Fishbowl

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