ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - State health officials are attempting to tackle the growing opioid epidemic head-on by offering free training to the public on how to safely use Naxolone, also known as Narcan, to reverse an overdose in case of an emergency.
The training was held Friday at 8:30 a.m. in the Human Services building in St. Paul and was offered as part of National Recovery Month in Minnesota. National Recovering Month is intended to help “increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover,” according to the Department of Human Services.
While more and more police departments and first responders are learning how to administer the drug, all Minnesotans got their chance Friday morning.
"We think everyone and anyone should be trained and know how to save someone's life and have the tools to do it," said Randy Anderson, of the Steve Rummler Hope Network.
Anderson taught the course Friday calling on personal experience as he is in long-term recovery and has been sober for more than a decade.
The room was filled with anyone who might someday need to use naloxone, including State Senator John Marty and Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper.
"The idea of administering a drug to someone who is in crisis can be daunting," said Piper. "And what I learned today is that anyone can do this. If I can do it, anyone can do it."
"It's a crisis thing," said Sen. Marty. "The people who are dealing with that medication are this close to death and they're saving lives every day."
Last year, more than 400 people died from opioid abuse in Minnesota, a number that's jumped by hundreds in the past two decades. In some cases, the overdoses are so severe that one dose of naloxone isn't enough.
"They're available, the kits are available," said Piper. And people, I just hope they see and that they can feel like they can do it too. We all see people in crisis in times of our lives and you don't have to be powerless in those moments."
The Department of Human Services also announced today it is ending prior-authorization requirements for a drug called suboxone, which is used to treat addiction to opioids. For Medicaid patients, that means easier access.