By Carleigh Turner, Web Designer
During my freshman year of college, I hopped on Instagram and my life was changed forever.
"Rest in paradise, Sam. I can't explain how much I miss you already. You're my best friend, forever. You don't deserve this. Just know that no one will ever be able to replace you and I will always, always love you baby girl. I hope you find the happiness you deserve up there. See you soon."
This is how I found out Sam Knurek, a girl on my high school gymnastics team, had died. Heroin had taken a beautiful girl, who had just started her senior year of high school.
Fortunately, since her death, there have been many lives saved due to the opioid antidote - naloxone or Narcan. And now, Narcan will be available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington D.C in Walgreens pharmacies this year, according to a Walgreens Press release.
The medication became available without a prescription in Walgreens stores throughout New York last week, and will be introduced in Indiana and Ohio later this month.
Naloxone, or Narcan, can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose by attaching to heroin and opioid receptors in the brain and blocking the opioids for 30 to 90 minutes to reverse respiratory depression that would eventually lead to death from overdose, according to nalaxoneinfo.org.
Making Narcan so easily accessible is a giant leap in the war against heroin many are facing.
In my hometown of Naperville Illinois, alone, police have already used Narcan three times to save someone from a heroin overdose, according to an article in The Daily Herald.
The drug has also been credited with reversing 10,171 heroin overdoses from 1996, when the Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs started providing Narcan, to 2010.
By giving people like you and I access to this drug, there is no doubt the death toll will drop and people like Sam will be given a second chance at life.
Butler Undercover Regional Narcotics (BURN), hosted by the Butler County Sheriff's Office, saw 33 Heroin deaths in 2012, 49 heroin deaths in 2013 and seized nearly four pounds of heroin in investigations from 2012 to 2013. Heroin was also the most popular drug case in 2012 and 2013 with 59 cases in 2012 and 149 in 2013.
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This does not need to be the case.
With Walgreens soon providing Narcan without a prescription in Ohio later this month, I hope and pray those numbers will drop.
Heroin has taken two of my classmates in less than five years. I cannot sit and watch idly as more fall victim to the drug. Learning how to administer Narcan is one way that you or I may save a life.
If you plan on administering Narcan via nasal spray, you must first pull off the yellow cap, pry off the red cap, grip the clear plastic wings, gently screw off the capsule of Narcan into the barrel of the syringe, then insert the white cone into the person's nostril. You should push the medication vigorously into each nostril. However, if the person does not respond within two to five minutes, you may apply a second dose, according to the Law Enforcement Naloxone Guidance Document from pharmacy.ohio.gov.
Narcan can also be administered in the form of an epi-pen or intramuscularly using a syringe.
The argument that making this "overdose antidote" widely available will make heroin usage increase is valid. However, I firmly believe that as long as the person using heroin is not dead, there is still hope.
If they're not dead, they can still go to treatment.
Like many chronic diseases, addiction cannot be cured. However, treatment and maintenance programs allow many people to flourish once they decide to quit.
A heroin addiction is not a death sentence, and providing the public with lifesaving Narcan is just another step in overcoming the disease of addiction.