More than 160 Loudoun County deputies are now trained to administer the potentially life-saving drug naloxone to help counteract the effects of an opioid in an overdose.
Additional patrol deputies were trained last week to administer the drug as part of a pilot project through Purdue Pharma—which manufactures and markets the pain killer OxyContin—and the National Sheriffs’ Association. The project trains deputies how to use the overdose antidote and provides the drug to the sheriff’s office through a $350,000 grant.
Nationally, deaths from opioid overdoses have risen significantly since 2012. This year alone, the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office had responded to 46 suspected opioid overdoses—including 13 fatalities, most believed to be heroin-related. In Loudoun, investigators say four out of five heroin users began their addiction with prescription opioids like OxyContin and oxycodone before moving to the cheaper, more readily available street drug.
“This addiction often starts from a medicine cabinet and not from a street corner,” Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman stated while announcing the expanded naloxone initiative. “Unfortunately, it often ends up on the street corner.”
Distributors of heroin, in most cases are the users themselves, typically travel to Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, and West Virginia, to acquire the drug, and then return to Loudoun to provide a small group. “As the heroin is coming from outside of Loudoun, we continue to work with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal partners to target regional sources. We also continue collaborative efforts with our state and local counterparts through street level enforcement. In addition, we are working with legislators, educators and treatment specialists to help save lives,” Chapman stated.
In response to the increase in opiate overdoses nationwide, law enforcement agencies across the country have begun equipping their personnel with nasal naloxone (NARCAN). Last week, 133 Loudoun deputies were trained by representatives from Diamond Pharmacy Services to utilize naloxone. That comes after patrol deputies assigned to the Western Loudoun Station were trained and equipped with the drug last December as part of a local pilot program. The deputies were trained by members of the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue System, under the authority of Operational Medical Director Dr. John Morgan, In February, two Loudoun deputies were recognized after the first use of the drug to help revive a man suffering an apparent heroin overdose.