Today's Paper Newsletters Cooking Obits LEARNS Guide Classifieds Podcasts Tablet Help Sports Jobs Contact us Puzzles Public Notices

WATCH | SOZO receives $57K to combat overdoses

by Courtney Edwards | April 17, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
Stacia Looper demonstrates how to use Naloxone to save someone from an opioid overdose. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

SOZO Addiction Recovery Center is offering naloxone training with free kits in Garland and Saline counties.

Arkansas was awarded more than $250,000 in abatement funds through the opioid settlement against pharmaceutical companies, drugstores, chains and other businesses that profited from the opioid epidemic. Of this, about $57,000 was awarded to SOZO.

Naloxone, a medication designed to reverse opioid overdose, is also known by the brand name Narcan. After receiving the grant from the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership's Naloxone Community Hero Project, SOZO plans to distribute more than 1,200 naloxone kits over the next year and educate the communities about naloxone.

Video not playing? Click here  

"Naloxone, if you don't know, is an opioid antagonist," said Brad Lovan, executive director of SOZO. "It attaches to the opioid receptors, knocks the opioids off the receptors, and thus, reverses an overdose."

Stacia Looper, a peer recovery specialist for SOZO, said she plans to visit several schools within the counties to give students education on naloxone and provide them with naloxone kits, as well.

"You just never know when their friends may get a hold of something, their parents may get a hold of something, their grandparents," she said.

"I wanna add, though, that we're not just targeting your normal addict on the street," but also accidental overdoses, Looper said.

"People overdose all the time by, you know, they may have a medical condition and forget that they have taken too many of their opioids. They drop something on the floor and a small child gets a hold of it."

Naloxone is perfectly safe to use on children, she added. In fact, it's harmless if used even on someone who is not overdosing. Although naloxone does eventually expire, it will do no harm to someone who does receive a dose. It just might not be successful in reversing the overdose if it is expired.

As SOZO, located at 243 Nathan Terrace, Jessieville, distributes 1,200 naloxone kits throughout the surrounding communities, the hope is to minimize the deaths from overdose in the state. In 2021, there were 628 drug overdoses in Arkansas according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health.

"Arkansas is the second-highest prescribing state in the country," Lovan said. "It is definitely a huge problem in Arkansas, and so one thing they figured out through research is that 40% of all opioid overdoses occur with a bystander present. Eighty percent of all overdoses happen inside a person's house. So, they figured out the best way that we're able to combat these overdoses is to get naloxone into hands of everybody out in the community."

Although the root of the problem is the opioid epidemic, which doesn't seem to be on the path to slow anytime soon, preventing deaths through overdose is a step in the right direction, which is possible thanks to naloxone.

"We have been throwing trillions of dollars at the problem, but have been unable to even slow it down," Lovan said. "We realized at this point, fighting the problem is not really working. Last year alone, almost 110,000 lives, and we spent $1 trillion last year alone trying to fight the opioid crisis, but we're not slowing it down. ... Maybe we're not gonna slow the opioid problem down, but maybe we can stop the overdoses."

One of the main problems in the opioid crisis is fentanyl, which has no smell or taste and is at least 50 times more potent than morphine, according to information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"It's literally about the size of a tip of a pen that can kill a human being," Lovan said. "And carfentanyl, which is coming across from China now and coming up through the border, is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. So, all it takes is just a tiny amount.

"If you were to pull up on somebody who overdoses or found somebody who overdosed, you would just take it, undo the package and squirt the nasal spray up one of their nostrils, and then you wait about three to five minutes to see if they're gonna wake up. And if they don't, immediately you would give them the second dose and, of course, begin CPR and call the authorities."

To inquire about scheduling a training session with free naloxone kits, contact Lovan or Looper at 501-984-5317.

  photo  Naloxone, under the brand name Narcan, reverses an overdose by blocking the effects of the opiates and restoring breathing. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

Print Headline: WATCH | SOZO receives $57K to combat overdoses


Sponsor Content