Editorial: Life-saving Narcan should be available far and wide

It’s both alarming and sad that opioid overdoses are now such a problem on Whidbey Island that a variety of government employees carry Narcan, which is the brand name for the opioid-antidote drug naloxone. Unfortunately, it’s become a fact of life not just here, but across the nation.

But we say the more access to Narcan in the community, the better.

We commend Amerigroup Washington, an Apple Health insurance provider, for awarding Island County government a $7,500 grant to purchase 100 naloxone kits. The county’s opioid outreach team will be able to get them in the right hands.

Individuals who know someone at risk of overdosing should also consider keeping Narcan on hand.

It’s available without a prescription, and Washington state law allows people to possess and administer naloxone with immunity from liability.

There is, however, more involved in saving lives than squirting the drug up someone’s nose. As Island County health officer Dr. Brad Thomas points out, CPR is almost always an equally important part in saving a victim of overdose.

Each of the fire districts on the island, as well as WhidbeyHealth, offer classes on the life-saving procedure, making it easy to learn how to properly perform CPR.

Relatives and friends of those hooked on heroin or pain killers shouldn’t feel guilty about preparing for the possibility of an overdose. And the idea that having Narcan available somehow encourages opioid use is proven to be a myth.

How many of us have lost loved ones to opioids? And how many of us would give anything to have had a means of saving their lives — giving them a chance at a new start?

Nobody can force others to stop using drugs, but it is possible to be prepared in the event their lives need saving.