Free Narcan kits available at Ilanka Community Health Center

The contents of a hand-packed Narcan kit include two doses of nasal spray, instructional information, gloves, and a CPR facial mask, as seen on Thursday, June 7, 2018. The kits are available for free at the Ilanka Community Health Center. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Naloxone, sold commercially as Narcan, saved at least 67 lives in Alaska last year, by temporarily blocking or reversing effects of opioids on parts of the brain that drive breathing, thanks to free Narcan kits from Project HOPE.

That was the conclusion of a survey conducted by the Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage, evaluators for the Alaska Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention’s Project HOPE. While the survey results don’t indicate if any of the lives saved were in Cordova, the Ilanka Community Health Center wants people to know that free Narcan kits are available there.

In most cases the impact of a dose of Narcan is immediate, blocking the effects of the overdose, including heroin.

The Ilanka clinic receives the free Narcan kits through OSMAP, established in July 2017 as an agency within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Narcan kits have been available free from the Cordova clinic since October.

Project HOPE is a state-based program that aims to reduce opioid-related deaths through training and the distribution of Narcan to communities throughout Alaska.

Evaluators at UAA gathered information from people who completed an optional survey after having used a Narcan kit.

Through the survey, they concluded that 96 percent of overdose victims survived after receiving Narcan and that most victims woke up after receiving the drug.

They also recommend that anyone who uses Narcan should also take further actions, including putting the victim into the recovery position, calling 9-1-1 during every overdose emergency, and performing CPR if the victim is not breathing or has no pulse.

The kits include two nasal doses of Narcan, gloves, medical information, a face shield for CPR, and an informational hand-out describing the signs of an overdose and how to administer the medicine.

To pick up a free, hand-packed kit, stop by the clinic and complete a free, five to 10 minute confidential training from certified staff.

The completion of training will not go on the individual’s medical record.

They also provide free medication disposal systems. These medication disposal bags can deactivate up to 45 pills, six ounces of liquid or six patches. Once water is added, the bag can be resealed and thrown away.

The public health nurse will also have kits available to distribute when in town.

For more information about Narcan in Cordova, call the clinic at 907-424-3622.

For more information about Project HOPE or if you have used a Narcan kit and would like to complete a survey, visit www.opioids.alaska.gov. For further questions, email ProjectHOPE@alaska.gov.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.