CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s addiction and mental health helpline, HELP4WV, is urging West Virginians to become “Naloxone Heroes” by obtaining free doses of the overdose reversal drug, naloxone.
Naloxone is simple to administer and effective at counteracting opioid overdoses. Examples of opioids include heroin, fentanyl, or oxycodone.
Naloxone is available in West Virginia through a standing order issued by the State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad without a prescription. Recently, new legislation expanded the ability for certain nonprofits and community organizations to distribute naloxone to the community under Dr. Amjad’s standing order.
HELP4WV is partnering with the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute to get the medication to more West Virginians, including those in active addiction, those who have friends or family with a drug addiction, and anyone who may encounter someone in need of the life-saving intervention.
West Virginia experienced a 45% increase in the number of overdose deaths in 2020. An estimated 1,275 West Virginians met an untimely death last year due to an overdose.
Jordan Dennison, a recovery coach for HELP4WV, said he could have been a statistic in the past. During his years of active addiction, he was treated 11 times with naloxone.
He now has nearly three years in recovery, and he helps others who are addicted to drugs.
“Finding someone you know or even a stranger overdosing is very traumatic, especially when you are completely helpless and unprepared. Naloxone can literally save that person’s life and also provide them another opportunity to find recovery. If it weren’t for naloxone, I wouldn’t be here today, my parents wouldn’t have their oldest child, and my son wouldn’t have a father. I don’t want any other family to suffer from that type of grief. This is why I think it’s so important for us to make naloxone accessible to all,” Dennison said.
West Virginia residents who want to help can go to Help4WV.com and scroll to the “Be a Naloxone Hero” badge. Residents can also call or text 1-844-HELP-4WV to have the link emailed or texted. After completing a short online course that gives instruction on proper use of the medication, participants will be mailed a training certificate and two doses of auto-injector naloxone free of charge.