Billboards Spread Narcan Awareness With Photos of Overdose Victims

Billboards Spread Narcan Awareness With Photos of Overdose Victims

By Victoria Kim 07/07/16

Utah is ranked fourth highest for drug overdose fatalities but one group is doing their part to raise awareness about naloxone to prevent more deaths. 

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Billboards Spread Narcan Awareness With Photos of Overdose Victims
Photo Fox13

A series of yellow billboards can be seen across Utah featuring the images of people who died after fatally overdosing on drugs. 

The billboards were erected late June by Utah Naloxone, a group that’s spreading the word about naloxone, the drug that’s able to revive people from opioid overdose (typically from prescription painkillers or heroin). As of November 2015, the Salt Lake City-based group distributed more than 800 naloxone kits, according to Deseret News.

“When someone is drowning, you don’t wait until the ambulance is there to take them out of the water. You pull them out of the water,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb, the medical director for Utah Naloxone whose brother died of a heroin overdose 20 years ago. “That’s what naloxone does, starts them breathing again,” she told Fox 13.

According to the Utah Department of Health, the state ranked fourth in the U.S. for drug overdose fatalities from 2012-2014. The Utah legislature passed a law expanding naloxone access in 2014, allowing the drug to be prescribed and distributed to not only opioid users, but those who know someone at risk of overdosing. Another law passed in the same year, called the Good Samaritan law, gives immunity for either the overdose victim or a person seeking help for the individual from certain drug offenses, to ensure that fewer people will hesitate to call 911.

This and other information can be found on Utah Naloxone’s website, which include how to administer naloxone and a list of Utah pharmacies that offer naloxone kits.

Families of overdose victims like Plumb and Dennis Cecchini say their loved ones would still be alive if they had access to naloxone at the time. So far, after about a year in operation, Utah Naloxone has already been responsible for 88 prevented deaths, according to Fox 13. And the group has gotten even more attention and calls from people seeking help since the billboards went up last month. 

“We hope it will spur a lot of people to get it, keep using it, and to save their lives,” Cecchini, who lost his son Tenniyson to opioid overdose, told Fox 13. “You can’t get better unless you stay alive, you just can’t.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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