Using Naloxone to Save Lives

A recent study released by PDFNJ found that more than half of respondents to a survey on opioids had little or no concern about the risk of injury or death posed by prescription opioids. These troubling numbers indicate there are some gaps in New Jersey residents’ knowledge on the topic.

The study also provided a look into how much state residents know about Naloxone. More than 80 percent of survey respondents had heard of Naloxone, but less than 50 percent did not know much about it or how to use it.

In the midst of this horrifying opioid epidemic, the use of Naloxone has been a lifesaver for thousands of New Jersey residents. The opioid overdose reversal antidote is carried by most law enforcement personnel and emergency responders, but average citizens are also capable of saving lives with Naloxone.

The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation (TOPAC) trains people how to recognize an overdose and how to administer Naloxone. The organization also educates residents on the Overdose Prevention Act and provides information on treatment and recovery resources.

This week’s guest blog is from TOPAC CEO and President Paul Ressler.

By Paul Ressler

I personally know what it is like to lose someone you love to a drug overdose. On July 14, 2010, I lost my son, Corey, that way.  After years of struggling with the disease of addiction, Corey overdosed. The friends he was with at the time abandoned him — a 911 call not completed. Because I was not alone —drug overdose deaths in New Jersey are the leading cause of accidental death — I knew I had to change the laws concerning helping someone who has experienced an overdose. 

Up until May 2, 2013, when the Overdose Prevention Act became law, people were subjected to prosecution and conviction if they witnessed or experienced a drug overdose. The law changed that by offering protection from arrest for those that seek medical attention.

In addition, the law encouraged the expanded access to Naloxone, the medication that reverses the respiratory depression that results from an overdose. The Overdose Prevention Act provided protection similar to “The Good Samaritan Law” to those who may administer Naloxone. I supported the Overdose Prevention Act and worked diligently to get it passed.

I went even further and founded The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation, which is committed to maximizing the provisions of the Overdose Prevention Act “so that a potential tragedy may become an opportunity for recovery.” TOPAC trains and educates individuals on how to recognize when someone has overdosed and how to administer Naloxone. To date, TOPAC has trained more than 2,700 individuals on the life application. More than 55 overdoses have been reported as being reversed as a direct result of TOPAC trainings.

I think about Corey every day and how his life might have been different. I know that I am working to change the lives of other individuals impacted by the disease of addiction. Corey is my inspiration.  


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