Public health officials offer free Narcan, training as overdose cases spike
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. – Police and public health officials in Gwinnett County have reported an uptick in overdose cases with at least 41 in the last 18 days.
They said it’s part of a larger public health issue — widespread distribution and use of the drug fentanyl. They want to let residents know their priority is getting those who overdose the help they need.
“It’s a community issue that’s affecting our entire community,” said Gwinnett County Police Department spokesperson Officer Hideshi Valle.
Farley Barge, the president of Navigate Recovery Gwinnett, said he’s seen surges in overdose cases in the past, but this one is even more alarming.
“This one seems to be particularly rising quickly,” he explained.
According to Barge, the US saw an increase in Fentanyl entering the country right around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as substance abuse programs, along with virtually everything else, shut down.
“They couldn’t get access to support that they might’ve needed that helped them so I think that attributed a lot to the uptick,” Barge said.
He told FOX 5 it’s created what he called “the perfect storm” for a ripple effect of stressors — which include inflation among others.
“Even as the pandemic subsides, we are still seeing and experiencing a lot of the effects from them and this is just one of them.”
Recovery Coach Rachael Burns said right now the organization’s goal is to combat overdose deaths by providing Narcan to the community.
“It’s very easy to administer, they can get it for free here and they can potentially save a life,” she said.
Program Manager Blake Clarke said they also have training opportunities on how to use it.
“Every Saturday morning, from here on till the end of the year, at 10 a.m., we provide the training on how to use the NARCAN, if you come across the situation where someone has overdosed,” Clarke said.
Gwinnett County police want to remind residents that through Georgia’s medical amnesty law, people who are reporting or experiencing a medical emergency brought on by overdose are protected from prosecution.
“The last thing they’re worried about is what they’ve ingested or what they have,” Valle stated.
The free training is held at Navigate Recovery Gwinnett’s facility which is located at 52 Gwinnett Drive, Suite A in Lawrenceville. It’s sponsored by GNR Public Health and Georgia Overdose Prevention.
For more information on the training or other resources available call 678-743-1808, ext. 115 or email [email protected] Those interested can also visit GNR Health’s website by clicking here.