Steamboat police reverse opiate overdoses with Narcan | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat police reverse opiate overdoses with Narcan

Many of today's most addictive drugs are not being sold by drug dealers on street corners but can be found in almost every home inside the medicine cabinet. Opiates have long been used by physicians to help their patients deal with pain, but one of the worst side affects of opiates is addiction. Suboxone patches are used to help treat people addicted to opiates.

— Steamboat Springs police have been carrying a drug that has helped save the lives of people who have overdosed on opiates.

Officers were trained and starting carrying Narcan in October. The police department spent $615 to buy the drug.

When a person overdoses on opiates, the main concern is it causes a person's respiratory rate to slow down or even stop.

Narcan works by blocking the receptor sites that allow narcotics into a person’s system.

Police Commander Annette Dopplick said officers so far have administered Narcan four times, which resulted in a life-saving reversal.

In another two cases, officers helped with CPR while paramedics administered the drug.

The most recent reversal was on April 30. It was the third time Officer Jordan Cyphers had saved someone's life with Narcan.

"To me, these numbers are really high for an agency our size," Dopplick said.

Dopplick said those numbers do not come close the number of overdoses that have occurred in Steamboat.

Sometimes, paramedics administer Narcan, and police are never involved.

In other cases, people are brought directly to the emergency room.

"We see a very narrow snapshot of the problem," Dopplick said.

During Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, city manager Gary Suiter spoke about the opiate epidemic and the impacts local police have been having with Narcan.

Suiter said the issue was concerning.

"They basically show up, and people are not breathing and for all intents and purposes dead," Suiter said. "They just keep giving them doses of this until they come around or not."

He said administering Narcan has become a regular occurrence.

"It's a concern to me that the opiate addictions — the war — has hit this community," Suiter said. "It has hit this community hard, and it is happening far too regularly."

He said a solution to the problem goes beyond spending tax dollars on more public education.

Suiter said it will require improved access to drug treatment programs and the support system that is necessary to keep people from relapsing.

"It will take a community effort if we want to take this on … and it won't be cheap," Suiter said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland