DES MOINES — A representative of the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition was at the Iowa capitol Monday to train two state officials how to administer Naloxone, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.
State Auditor Rob Sand said in late October of 2018 he attended the funeral of a woman who was the sister of one of his friends and she had died of an opioid overdose.
“I knew prior to that that it was a huge problem in the state,” Sand said, “but obviously being in the room and being there made it feel very different.”
State Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said opioid abuse is “clearly” an issue throughout the state.
“Mostly in the farm community we’re thinking a lot about…financial stress, mental stress and the big message here is to get help,” Naig said. “It’s okay to ask for help and get over that stigma.”
The Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition was formed three years ago and Tiffany Carter said they’ve been told two-thousand of the Naloxone kits they’ve distributed have been used to keep an overdose from becoming fatal.
“It’s alarming to see as sharp of an increase that we’ve seen in such a short amount of time,” Carter said.
Carter spent about 45 minutes showing the two statewide elected officials how to use Naloxone and she advised that it may require more than one dose to reverse an opioid overdose.
“Luckily, we have this great medication,” Carter said. “The more that people have it, the more that we are likely going to reduce fatal overdoses in the state.”
According to Carter, first responders like EMTs are involved in just five percent of the cases in which Naloxone is used to revive the victim of an overdose. The Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition distributes free packets with three doses of Naloxone. Getting it by prescription costs as much as $150. Naloxone is available at a reduced rate to law enforcement and other agencies that are considered first responders.