Michael Bushnell

Last Wednesday, Aug. 31, was International Overdose Awareness Day and representatives from Benilde Hall, a local substance abuse counseling center near 23rd and Benton Boulevard, teamed up with Independence Avenue Community Improvement District (CID) Ambassador Laura Cardwell to distribute over 100 doses of NARCAN to homeless camps located along the Independence Avenue corridor.

“Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, so we’re paying tribute to those who have lost their lives to a drug overdose,” said Kara Walters, an Executive Assistant with Benilde Hall. “We’re handing out NARCAN to help prevent the deaths of future opioid overdoses in the various homeless camps in the Northeast area.”

NARCAN blocks the receptor that causes the patient to overdose, whether it’s fentanyl, heroin, meth or an opiate.

“After taking NARCAN, people go into automatic withdrawal,” said Jenna Strickland, a Mental Health Coordinator at Benilde Hall. “NARCAN wears off, which is why it’s important to call 911 and get the patient the proper treatment.”

Opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in America, according to the NARCAN website, narcan.com. Brain damage can occur after only four minutes without breathing, and death can occur only four to six minutes later. NARCAN, a brand of Naloxone, used as a nasal spray quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

“We’re really hoping to make an impact in the community,” Cardwell noted. “We don’t want anyone else to lose their life to an overdose.”
Organizers said they’d like this to be an annual event should a need still exist.