MERIDEN — On Wednesday, Rushford is hosting its next monthly virtual Narcan training session for city residents.
Narcan, also known as Naloxone, is a life-saving medicine which quickly reverses the effects of opioids.
The 45-minute training session covers the signs of an overdose and how to administer Narcan. Rushford delivers a free Narcan nasal spray kit with two doses to all Meriden participants.
Kelsey Ludington, who leads the training for Rushford, said overdoses can happen anywhere.
“You could just be a bystander,” she said.
Rushford, located at 833 Paddock Ave., offers a variety of outpatient programs for mental health and substance abuse issues. To register, contact Ludington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, 10 residents died from accidental opioid overdoses in the past six months. Last year, 21 residents died. There were 37 deaths in 2020.
The Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery program, which funds the training, reported that local first responders used Narcan 411 times, averaging nearly 13 times per month, in the program’s first three years.
“Narcan gives people a chance to change instead of becoming a statistic,” said Pamela Mautte, director of the Alliance for Prevention and Wellness, a regional health action organization serving south central Connecticut.
Mautte said community-based Narcan training began about four years ago.
“We’ve trained moms and dads, brothers and sisters,” said Mautte, adding she feels the nasal spray form of Narcan is the easiest to use.
The medication usually takes effect in one to five minutes.
“I’ve heard it referred to as coming back to life,” Ludington said. “Sometimes, they might not even remember that they overdosed.”
Narcan can be picked up at major pharmacies, like Walgreens, without a doctor’s prescription — no questions asked. A trained pharmacist will explain how to use Narcan before giving it to you. Most insurance covers Narcan, but there may be a co-pay of up to $20.
“The people that are picking up Narcan may not necessarily have an opioid addiction. It’s a lot of loved ones, a lot of families,” Ludington said.
All city schools have had a Narcan kit since Aug. 2019, said Stephanie Denya, Meriden’s associate health director. Public health nurses participate in yearly in-person training before the school year starts.
At the Daffodil Festival in April, a woman approached Rushford’s Narcan booth to tell them that her friend had overdosed and she was able to save her because she had gone to one of the trainings.
In one instance, Ludington’s brother noticed someone passed out in their car with the windows rolled down. After confirming that the person had overdosed, he raced back to his car to get his Narcan kit and was able to save them.
Also, a student, who had overdosed off-site, was revived with Narcan at the school’s nurse’s office, according to Denya. He has since made a full recovery.
Ludington hopes these training sessions will keep the conversation around opioids alive.
“Substance abuse with that stigma, many people might avoid the conversation, but it’s so important to keep relevant in social media and talk about,” she said.
Rushford will hosting another virtual Narcan training session on August 3rd.
Health Equity Reporter Cris Villalonga-Vivoni is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. To learn more about RFA go to www.reportforamerica.org. Villalonga-Vivoni can be reached at email@example.com. or