Raleigh County stakeholders debate use of Narcan to fight drug e - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Raleigh County stakeholders debate use of Narcan to fight drug epidemic

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) Two Southern West Virginia counties will soon receive thousands of federal dollars to combat the drug epidemic. 

Raleigh County and Mercer County specifically were named as recipients of the grant administered by West Virginia's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin. 

But how should the money be spent?

Leaders with Project Lazarus, a North Carolina non-profit, were in Beckley on Monday to convince local leaders to adopt a strategy they claim has a proven track record.  A chief component of the program is getting Narcan, a drug that reduces the sometimes fatal effects of an overdose, into the hands of the community. 

"It will go first to first responders and police. But our programs show where it can be used in the community," said Fred Branson, Project Lazarus's Executive Dir. 

But the program is not isolated to just Naloxone, cautions Branson. He hopes leaders will use the funding in conjunction with community and school-based treatment, something first responders said Monday isn't happening now. 

"We are not seeing these people get community based help. That's something that's got to happen in people's homes," said Paul Seaman, Dir. of Operations at JanCare Ambulance. "The idea that they're going to be transported to treatment just doesn't happen." 

Herb Linn, Deputy Dir. of WVU Injury Control Research Center will be instrumental in helping communities use the funds. At a meeting of local stakeholders on Monday, he stressed the importance of catching addicts when they fall with Narcan, but then getting them into treatment. 

"Overdose survivors are engaged by behavioral and peer counselors and they're given the tools that will steer them towards recovery. That's what really reduces the overdose rates, getting them into treatment." 

Since the program was first implemented in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Branson said the county's fatal overdose rate dropped by 50 percent over four years. 

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