Doctor Gives Own Time And Money To Expand Naloxone Access And Education

By Victoria Kim 11/16/15

Dr. John Aldis hosts weekly training sessions and dispenses naloxone kits to attendees.

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Every Friday at 6 p.m., a small group of people gather at Callahan Counseling Services in Martinsburg, W.V., to learn how to use naloxone. At the end of the session, Dr. John Aldis, who hosts the weekly training sessions, dispenses naloxone kits to attendees, which include a prescription and nasal administration kit.

West Virginia, as well as Kentucky and Nevada, has the highest number of drug overdose-related deaths in the country. In order to combat the drug abuse problem, the state government has advocated the use of naloxone, which reverses life-threatening respiratory depression caused by high doses of opioids.

This year, the state approved legislation making the overdose antidote available to West Virginians with a doctor’s prescription.

“I found the best way to approach this was to just start doing it—to start offering a class to get this into the hands of people who need it the most,” Dr. Aldis told The Journal. “Build it and they will come is my philosophy.”

Dr. Aldis’ training sessions are free and open to the public. Attendees can choose to give a $10 donation to cover the cost of the nasal administration kit, but Dr. Aldis told The Journal that it’s not necessary for individuals who don’t have $10 to give.

The majority of the cost to fund the training sessions and naloxone kits is paid on Dr. Aldis’ dime. The doctor has spent roughly $1,000 so far.

It’s already paying off. Two people who attended his training went on to save the lives of others—one of whom was a pregnant woman.

“The young pregnant woman whose life was saved on Sept. 11 by the administration of naloxone is significant because it may represent the first lives saved in West Virginia through a state doctor prescribing naloxone directly to drug users and their family members, peers and caregivers,” Herb Linn, who works with the West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center, told The Journal.

So far, the reaction to the training sessions have been well received by the community. Dr. Aldis hopes other physicians will follow his example and help further expand naloxone access and education in the troubled state.

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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