Narcan controversy: ‘No one ever plans on doing too much’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Statistics show 13 people die every day in Pennsylvania of an opioid overdose.  The state ranks as one of the five worst for opioid abuse in the nation. There is a drug called Naloxone, known by its brand name Narcan, that is saving people from overdosing from opioids.

The drug has saved tens of thousands of lives during this epidemic, but some ABC27 viewers have emailed us to ask a harsh question: why should emergency responders keep saving the same people over and over again? The cost varies widely from $20 to $40 a dose.

Emily Sullivan is a recovering opioid addict and shares what the drug does to someone who has overdosed.

“It kind of feels like you just want to crawl out of your skin. You feel dehydrated,” Sullivan said.

That’s what it feels like to be “Narcanned.” Sullivan has been through it multiple times. It’s sprayed in the nose or injected into the thigh or abdomen. In the throes of her addiction, did she feel she was taking less of a risk because she knew Narcan could bring her back?

“I’ve never heard that. I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘Well if I do too much, they’ll be able to Narcan me.’ No one ever plans on doing too much. No one ever thinks that it’s going to be too much,” Sullivan said.

Jack Carroll is the executive director of the Cumberland-Perry Drug and Alcohol Commission. He says we all have to remember addicts are human beings with a disease, not a moral failing.

“It hurts me every time I hear that comment or read that comment in the newspaper or online,” Carroll said. “What I would say is we do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Carroll believes if you or a family member has chronic pain and takes a prescription opioid on an ongoing basis, there’s a risk you could overdose accidentally. He advises keeping Naloxone in your medicine cabinet. It is available in pharmacies without a prescription.

Our goal with these reports is to help. Navigating how to get into recovery can be complicated.

There is a phone number you can call, 1-800-622-HELP (4357), it’s a hotline that’s staffed by trained professionals. You can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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