LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A life-saving drug made specifically for people overdosing on opiates is now carried by several law enforcement agencies in Southwest Oklahoma.
Monday, an officer with the Tulsa Police Department partnered with a local organization called Roadback to teach officers about the drug Narcan. The drug is a nasal spray that will completely counteract the effects of all opiates.
Oklahoma has the 5th highest opiate-related death rate in the country, with more people dying of opiate overdoses than they do of car crashes. If an officer arrives at a scene and finds someone who they believe to have overdosed on opiates, they simply take out the little bottle of nasal spray and squirt it into their nose. If the person did take opiates, it will counteract all the effects, but if they didn't it won't cause any harm to the person.
Officer Anthony First with the Tulsa Police Department said opiate abuse is only growing here in Oklahoma.
"In other parts of the country, the opiate problem, especially with heroin and fentanyl and carfentanil is growing exponentially and like most drug related problems, it grows like a wave towards Oklahoma so more than likely as bad as it is right now, the next two to three years it will become much much worse," First said.
Monday, Officer First talked with officers from nearly every Comanche County police department, telling them of the successes they've had using the drug in Tulsa.
"We had our 30th save yesterday, it was a gentleman who tried to kill himself," First said. "Fortunately, the officers were the first ones there and were able to help him and hopefully with their help, the patient will see that wasn't a necessary step."
Officer First said it is important for police to have the equipment and knowledge to potentially save a life, but said most of the lives saved aren't by police.
"They're made by family members. They're made by moms and dads, brothers and sisters whose loved one just have a problem," First said.
That's why Narcan is available over the counter and in Lawton, an organization called Roadback will actually give you the drug for free.
"If you have a family member who is struggling with addiction, you need a kit to have in your home because you never know if that one time they take medication, where it's so easy to mix up medications or for a child to get access to medications that are not theirs. It could save their lives," said Christina Erman, CEO of Roadback.
If you have a family member or a friend struggling with Opiate addiction, all you have to do is show up at the Roadback office at SW 12th and SW A Avenue in Lawton or call them at (580) 357 - 8114 and they will get you free Narcan.