SBI and ALE Agents Trained in Drug Used to Counter Overdoses

RALEIGH -- Special agents with the State Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol Law Enforcement were trained Oct. 15 at the SBI academy in how to administer Naloxone, a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdoses.

The two agencies are the first statewide law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to train and carry Naloxone, a drug that revives opiate overdose victims when they stop breathing. Naloxone takes effect within two to five minutes after it is sprayed into the person’s nose. An overdose death can occur within hours after ingesting opiates which can slow or stop a person’s breathing. Naloxone can save their life if it is used immediately after noticing a person's breathing has slowed or they become unconscious.

The drug is administered by a nasal atomizer attached to a syringe which creates a mist and is sprayed into the victim’s nose. After five minutes, if there is no change in the person’s condition, a second dose can be administered. The effects of Naloxone last for at least 30 minutes which is time for emergency medical personnel to arrive or to transport the victim to a hospital for medical attention.

“This training will show agents the proper technique on how to recognize an overdose, how to administer Naloxone, how to treat the patient and what steps to take to get proper medical attention,” said Donnie Varnell, SBI’s special agent in charge of the Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit. “The person whose life is saved may be someone addicted to heroin, or a grandmother who took too many pills because she didn’t wear her glasses, or a sixth grader who was peer-pressured into using a controlled substance and his body had no tolerance for it. Any life we save is precious.”

Heroin, morphine, oxycodone/OxyContin, methadone, hydrocodone/Vicodin, codeine, and other prescription pain medications are opiates. Naloxone does not prevent deaths caused by other drugs such Xanax, Klonopin and Valium, bath salts, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol.

Naloxone reverses the depression of the nervous system, respiratory system and hypotension caused by an overdose of illicit drugs such as heroin and prescription drugs such as morphine. Kits containing two Naloxone dosage units issued to the agents are donated by the Lazarus Project of Wilkes County. Training is conducted by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. The coalition reported having 161 reversals in North Carolina this past year.

North Carolina loses 1,100 people annually to prescription drug overdose. As many as three people per day die in North Carolina from overdoses. For every death, 72 people seek medical help in emergency rooms for drug overdoses. In 2013, the number of heroin overdoses increased by 200 percent.

“Everyone is somebody’s child, parent or family member,” Varnell said.



Contact: Teresa West
Phone: (919) 662-4500