A lantern honors someone who died from an overdose at a Caribou memorial in August 2021. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

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The growing issue of  fentanyl-laced opioids in the United States poses a huge problem not only for opioid users but also for those ignorant of the substances they are ingesting. The New York City Department of Health stated that 81 percent of the 980 cocaine-related deaths in 2020 were due to fentanyl-laced cocaine. Marijuana, a legal drug in many U.S. states, can also be fentanyl-laced. Accordingly, every household should carry Narcan, a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of a fentanyl/opioid overdose.

Narcan, or naloxone, is most effective when used at the precise time of overdose, and works to restore normal respiration. In Maine, naloxone is available without a prescription at local pharmacies.

The Maine Attorney General’s Naloxone Distribution Program has since distributed  over 170,000 free doses. However, this opportunity is not being fully taken advantage of. People may ask: “How does this problem apply to me? I’m not an addict, and neither are my loved ones.” But, it is important to note that Narcan applies to overdoses of commonly used opioid prescription pain medications like oxycodone, not only heroin. The medicine cabinets of most Maine households contain the potential for an opioid overdose. Additionally, many people hide their drug abuse from family members, especially teenagers fearing punishment or individuals embarrassed to admit to their loved ones that they have an addiction.

Save the life of a loved one by getting a dose of Narcan. It is as simple as going to a local pharmacy.

Tessa Hartley