UR Medicine’s Strong Recovery is beginning a monthly Opioid Overdose Prevention Program that is open to the general public, free of charge. Participants will learn to recognize the symptoms of opioid overdose and how to react. Those who complete the hour-long training will be equipped with an overdose reversal kit containing naloxone, a prescription medicine used by emergency responders to help save suspected overdose patients.
UR Medicine is already providing this training to organizations throughout the region, including the University of Rochester’s entire Public Safety force. As the number of overdoses soars across New York State, however, officials are expanding the program to include family members and others who know someone using heroin or another opioid.
“Statistics show that when someone overdoses on opioids, he or she is usually not alone,” says credentialed substance abuse counselor Patrick Seche, M.S., director of Strong Recovery. “And generally, overdose does not cause instant death, so there is time to act. He or she does not have to die.”
Naloxone temporarily restores normal breathing in someone who has consumed opiates, which can sedate the user and gradually slow his or her breathing until the heart stops. The latest version of the overdose prevention kits contains a form of naloxone that can be sprayed into a person’s nose. There are no serious side effects, although the patient might experience opioid withdrawal symptoms upon waking. The American Medical Association and others have endorsed community-based, educational programs that distribute naloxone, and these efforts have proven to be effective in San Francisco, New York City and other places across the United States.
“While our primary goal at Strong Recovery is treatment and recovery, we recognize that it can be a slow process and setbacks often occur,” Seche says. “Naloxone could give someone another chance.”
Strong Recovery is offering the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program every first Tuesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The program is held at Strong Recovery, 300 Crittenden Boulevard, on the University of Rochester campus. Free or low-cost parking is available nearby. Each session is limited to 30 participants, and prior registration is required. To sign up, contact Michele Herrmann at (585) 275-1829 or Michele_Herrmann@urmc.rochester.edu