Fresno County deputies will soon carry a lifesaving drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, Sheriff Margaret Mims said Friday in a news conference called to emphasize the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
The drug, Naloxone, works by blocking the effects of opioids for 30 to 90 minutes, allowing the body a chance to recover from breathing depression that can lead to death. Use of the drug by public safety officers began in the Eastern United States in 2010, where an opioid epidemic started before spreading West.
Mims addressed the use of Naloxone during a news conference called to detail the sheriff’s “Lock it Up” project, which started with the intent of curtailing prescription drug abuse. She has identified it as one of the most urgent problems facing the Fresno-Clovis area. Deputies will be collecting unused prescription drugs Saturday at a 5K run/walk at Clovis Community College.
According to data from the sheriff’s office, abuse of prescription drugs in the county is up tenfold in the past decade, and abuse of opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin has risen 20 percent in the past three years among young people. A search for the drugs is identified as a factor in home break-ins in Clovis and north Fresno.
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Mims indicated the pattern of abuse in the county mirrors the epidemic nationwide, which often starts when opoids are prescribed because of an injury or illness. When doctors no longer write prescriptions, some patients turn to theft from relatives or the purchase of illegal drugs such as heroin or Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate. Others are exposed to the drugs from friends, sometimes at so-called “pharm parties.”
The sheriff said deputies may be provided with Naloxone as early as the beginning of 2018. It will also be available to correctional officers in the Fresno County Jail. In addition to preventing the death of someone under the influence of the drugs, Naloxone could also save the life of an officer accidentally exposed to the drugs, she said. Before Naloxene is available to her staff, the sheriff said policy guidelines for use must be prepared.
Fresno police are also moving to use the drug, at least narcotics officers, according to spokesman Lt. Mark Hudson. He said there is no timeline on when such an implementation would go into effect.
Lock it Up project
What, when and where: 5K fun run/walk Saturday at Clovis Community College, 10309 N. Willow Ave. Registration at 8 a.m., event starts at 8:30 a.m.
Why: To get rid of unwanted prescription drugs. Deputies will collect drugs in the school parking lot during the event. Last year, 75 pounds of drugs were collected.
More information: www.stompitoutpda.com