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Sheriff departments fight drug overdoses with nasal spray

Oakland Country police cars.
Oakland County Sheriff's Office

In counties all across the state, county sheriff's deputies are using a nasal spray to help counteract the effects of opiates.

A nasal spray containing the drug Narcan or naloxone can reverse the effects of a opiate drug overdose.

This week, it saved a 37-year-old man in Macomb County.

Lt. John Michalke of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department said 81 of his deputies were taught how to administer the drug in early May. On Tuesday, one of them was able to use it to save a man.

Michalke says the program is a response to an increase of drug overdoses.

“Our theory behind the program is that our sheriff's deputies are first responders oftentimes,” Michalke said. “They get the calls that someone is suffering from a drug overdose first. The idea is to equip them with opiate antagonists to give them another tool in their toolkit and hopefully be able to save some lives.”

Other sheriff's departments, including Oakland and Benzie counties use narcan.

According to Trust for America’s Health,  Michigan had the 18th-highest drug overdose mortality rate in 2013.

In 2014, a Michigan law was passed that allowed police to carry and administer opioid antagonists.

That makes Michigan unique.

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for expanding the use of naloxone.

According to the CDC, only 12 states allow basic EMT staff to administer the drug. The organization said having more people who know how to use the drug could help save lives.

The CDC says that more than 16,000 deaths in the United States involved prescription opioids and at least 8,000 more deaths were related to heroin.

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