Community leaders in St. Joseph County team up to lower number of opioid overdoses

WSBT 22 photo WSBT 22 photo WSBT 22 photo WSBT 22 photo 500 percent: That’s how much opioid overdoses have increased in Indiana in the last 20 years.

Community leaders in St. Joseph County are trying to lower that number.

Those leaders are partnering up.

The YMCA, St Joe County Department of Health, St. Joe County Public Library, Oaklawn, and the City of South Bend are all working together.

They’re going to host a FREE Narcan training session in just over two weeks. Leaders with those groups say more people need to know how to use that lifesaving drug.

Robin Vida is the Director of Health Education for the St. Joseph County Department of health.

She’s used Narcan twice: once on a middle-aged man and once on a woman.

"She wasn’t much younger than I am, so that’s when I was like, ‘Wow this really is not hidden in alleys, it’s

Administering Narcan was nerve-wracking.

“Even just talking about it, I can feel my blood pressure increasing,” said Vida.

But it was worth it.

"I’m sure that they would have died,” said Vida.

Vida’s experience isn’t unique.

South Bend police officers say they use Narcan all the time.

Everyone involved with the training session says using it to save lives is a major goal, but John Horsley also wants to reduce some stigma.

"The biggest myth around Narcan is we’re actually ‘enabling people to continue to use,’” said John Horsley, Oaklawn Psychiatric. “What you’re actually doing when you administer Narcan is enabling recovery."

That’s why Horsley and Vida want to see more than just medical professionals at the training session.

They also want to see friends and family members of people who are using opioids.

“Those are the people that are going to find them in a medically frail situation and need to administer the Narcan,” said Horsley.

Even if you don’t personally know someone who is addicted, you’re still welcome to come to the training session.

Horsley: "People are overdosing in parking lots of grocery stores, in the malls, in restaurants. So, if one person there has a dose of Narcan, that can alter someone’s life for the better."

That training session is free. It’s on February 11 from 10 to noon at the main branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend.

People who attend will go home with a dose of Narcan.

Robin Vida and the St. Joseph County Department of Health are in charge of getting the Narcan.

Vida told us she’s not sure yet how she’ll get them all, but she says she will make it happen.

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