According to Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, seven years ago Oklahoma suffered around 50 fentanyl-related deaths. Within the first five months of 2023, 317 fentanyl deaths were recorded, and the exact number is still being calculated.

Fentanyl seeping into communities seems to not be slowing down. In early March, The Comanche County Sheriff’s Department and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics seized thousands of fentanyl pills In Lawton.

In an attempt to fight against the opioid overdose crisis, Comanche County Memorial Hospital has launched a new 24-hour walk-in Naloxone or Narcan program thanks to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse for providing free Narcan kits.

“At first we were just thinking about patients coming in the ER for overdoses and being able to have something available to them whether they had insurance or not,” said Dr. Tara DeLonais, a clinical pharmacist. “And so the walk-in program would serve to fill that same need. They do have to come into the pharmacy here, but it is located in a 24-hour pharmacy, located in the ER at CCMH. And there’s a short survey they fill out, and when they come in for the Narcan they can request fentanyl test strips.”

Fentanyl test strips are used to detect the presence of fentanyl and fentanyl-analogs in drug samples prior to ingestion. The opioid is typically found in heroin, cocaine, crack, meth, and nonmedical-sourced pills. It cannot be detected by sight, taste, smell, or touch.

Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.

“Whether it’s you that is using or a friend of a loved one or even if you’re coming out of surgery and you’re on a new opioid,” DeLonais said. “Just having something available, because you don’t know how your body is going to react to that.”

DeLonais recommends still calling 911 if you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing an overdose. While you wait for paramedics and you have a Narcan kit, she says to use the nasal spray, which comes in packs of two, on the person who is potentially overdosing.

Once you spray inside their nose, they should respond within two to five minutes. If the person doesn’t wake up after a 5-minute period, you should dispense a second dose.

Rescue breathing should be done while you wait for the naloxone to take effect.

This program is available 24 hours a day to everyone of all ages, but if a person is 18 years or younger, the pharmacy requires an understanding of the use of Narcan as well as symptoms of the overdose.

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