Communities across Connecticut are arming families in need with Narcan in an effort to stop opioid addiction from claiming more lives.
Mark Jenkins of Hartford is helping people every single day by teaching them how to save their loved-ones' lives.
Recent statistics from the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner shows 208 have died from drug overdoses in the first quarter of 2016. If the trend continues, 624 more people will lose their lives these years.
“The sole purpose of naloxone is to reverse, to knock off," Jenkins said.
Jenkins is the founder and executive director of the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition which has been in operation since March of 2014.
Jenkins has been helping others battle addiction for almost two decades. These days he’s teaching members of the public how to use Narcan, which is a drug designed to reverse an opioid overdose.
It’s a drug designed to reverse an opioid overdose.
“Recognize, respond and evaluate,” are three simple steps Jenkins informs a small group at narcan training Thursday night.
He’s speaking passionately, from experience and the heart, to everyday people.
Deborah Most and her husband Tim, of Hartford, came Thursday night. She tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, “I’ve been clean four years. I was on pain medications legally for five years and that is how I ended up with heroin.”
Heroin addicts, survivors, relatives and others now learning how to use Naloxone, better known as Narcan
All are here, training for free, thanks to Jenkins and his team of volunteers with the greater Hartford harm reduction coalition.
Jenkins told NBC Connecituct Troubleshooter, “We have to get this drug, this medicine, into the hands of the people who need it most.”
Most has been in recovery 15 yearsand is now a Narcan administrator.
“I’ve been clean now for four years. There’s hope to see people come here, get kits. Sometimes the ambulances don’t make it on time, my member would’ve died if we didn’t pull her out of it.”
Jenkins demonstrates how different forms of Narcan are used.
“If opioid is present, it’ll work, if not present, completely harmless,” he explained.
“Whether intra-muscular, intra-nasal or evzio all in common in red bag two doses first dose doesn’t work.”
Jenkin's been clean for 19 years.
“For quite a few years, I was lost.”
So far this year, the coalition has handed out 300 Naloxone kits.
Narcan kits including to longtime heroin user 35 year old Annie Plourde.
“That unsympathetic person sitting there, it could be their mother or brother or sister. It could be someone very close to you and you don’t even know they could be using," longtime heroin-user 35-year-old Annie Plourde told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.
Annie is a struggling addict who has used Narcan nine times in the last six months.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and the one thing that hits you, this person are dying and either you’re gunna be able to save them or not and thank God they made this available," Annie said. “I don’t think I could be as honest as I am, about what is going on, if not for this program. It’s not going to do me any good not to tell the truth because maybe someone seeing my story will help that someone to get Narcan if something happens.”
Just recently her husband used Narcan on her.
“It saved my life, and I wouldn’t be here. I never meant to overdose. I did same amount always done and this was cut with fentanyl,” Annie said.
In and out of treatment a half dozen times, Annie will try once again, next week.
“I’m sure there’s someone out there saying you deserve this, did it to yourself and I did. I’m the last person who wouldn’t be held accountable for my actions, but it is the way it is and addiction is an issue and having it out there is saving lives.”
The state too, is working to strengthen opioid laws, and certain pharmacies and pharmacists are now writing narcan prescriptions for anyone who walks in and asks. While Annie tries to battle back, mark knows his fight is far from over
Jenkins stated, “Our obligation is to help people reduce amount of harm causing themselves on all levels. However that may be.”
Jenkins says he networks nationwide to get his hands on those narcan kits, but a lot of the costs, and they can get pricey come right out of pocket, so you can imagine how thrilled he is to recently earn 501-c3 nonprofit status.
Dr. James Gill the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, “There has been a dramatic increase in fentanyl deaths. The vast majority of these fentanyl deaths are due to illicit fentanyl not prescribed fentanyl. Toxicology testing cannot differentiate the illicit from the prescription fentanyl unless an unusual variant of fentanyl (such as acetyl-fentanyl) is detected which would indicate illicit production,” stated Gill.