‘A growing problem’: New grant aims to help Houston first responders prevent more opioid deaths with use of Narcan

HOUSTON – September is National Recovery Month and while the focus has been on fighting the spread of coronavirus in Houston, officials said the city is also working to address the worsening opioid addiction crisis.

According to a news release, Houston first responders have reported a 17% increase in overdoses in the months of April, May and June compared to last year.

The rise in usage of alcohol, opioids and other illicit drugs can be attributed to the anxiety, financial struggles, high stress level and other negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the release.

In an effort to help combat the crisis, the city announced a new grant program that will give first responders access to more naloxone, which is used to “restore normal respiration in people actively suffering from a heroin or prescription opioid overdose.”

Through the FRONTLINES (First Responder Opioid Overdose Naloxone Training and Linkage into Needed Evidence-based treatment Services) program, the Houston Fire Department received training on how and when to use Narcan, which is the nasal form of naloxone.

According to the release, Narcan has already been used over 1,000 times in 2020 alone.

“Now, more than ever, the entire Houston community needs to be aware that opioid misuse is a growing problem that could touch the lives of anyone including their own,” said Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department. “We must focus on making it easier for people to get the help they need and get it as quickly as possible.”

For more information on treatment for substance abuse services available in Houston, contact the Houston Recovery Center Clinical Office at 713-238-7803.

Naloxone can be found at any pharmacy in Texas without a prescription. Anyone can legally possess and administer naloxone if they or someone they know is at risk of an opioid overdose.

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.