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Training will save lives

THE ISSUE: Naloxone training offered 
OUR VIEW: Drug provides users a second chance
 
Those who attended Saturday's Naloxone training likely didn't want to be there; they had to be there. 
Naloxone is a synthetic drug that counters the effect of an opioid overdose when injected into a victim.
Unless you're in the medical field, administering the drug can be frightening. 
But so is knowing an addict.
The purpose of such training is not to provide a crutch to the user. Organizers say saving an overdose victim's life is about hope.
"They can't go to rehab if they are dead," said Lori Brown, of Buddy's Purpose, a drug abuse outreach.
And that's the overall purpose — to get the addict on the road to recovery.
"For many people the experience of a drug overdose is enough to push them towards seeking treatment," Brown said.
The training at the Streator Incubator was timely in that last week the Streator Police and Fire departments issued a statement urging the public to check on loved ones or friends suffering from addiction in the wake of a wave of overdoses.
While officials didn't provide numbers, we commend the departments for not trying to hide the fact that there were multiple overdoses in a short period of time. It's not good press for a city, but it's appropriate and necessary to be truthful and forthcoming if there's any chance of tackling the issue.
"Illicit drugs, including heroin, that are purchased on the street are extremely dangerous because they come in different mixtures and unknown strengths," the release said. "A person suffering from an opioid overdose may appear to simply be asleep but can't be awakened."
Streator certainly isn't alone with overdoses. In 2017, La Salle County had 35 residents die from an overdose. Opioid and heroin use aren't limited to certain communities, organizers said. Nationally, 177 people die every day from overdosing.
Organizers of the event were happy to help those who came to the training session, but they were disappointed more people didn't attend. Most of the 16 attendees were family members of addicts, and received kits with three vials of Naloxone and three clean syringes.
We should note the training isn't limited to those who are close to an addict.
"Anyone with a public restroom should have kits on hand," Brown said. "Anyone who takes opioids for pain management or knows of anyone who takes opioids should have one."
While paramedics have long carried the drug, more and more police officers are now armed with it.
Brown noted in her presentation brain damage can occur quickly in those who overdose, which is why it's important for Naloxone kits to be ready. She also noted it doesn't take a medically trained person to give Naloxone and save someone's life.
Debbie Hallam, organizer of the Streator-based Dusty Roads, which helped organize the session, has witnessed addicts turn their lives around. She said her group has helped more than 500 people since it started in 2014 to the point where she sees clients around town that once abused now leading drug-free lives.
Readily available Naloxone — to someone who's been trained to administer it — provides a second (sometimes a third or fourth chance) to get clean. 
And isn't that the best result we can ask for?

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