Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is giving Narcan away to patients who experience an accidental or intentional opioid overdose.

Narcan is a prescription medication used to reverse the dangerous life-threatening effects of opioids.

The health system is able to give away the medication for free through a grant from the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says, more than 33,000 people died because of opioids in 2015. That same year, Metro Health says their emergency department treated 285 drug overdoses with 190 of those being actual or potentially opioid related.

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is distributing Narcan in nasal spray form.

It is important to note that Narcan does not take the place of emergency medical care, and 911 should still be called when it is used.

The hospital says their goals for distributing these kits include:

  • eliminating the need for the patient to travel to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for Narcan;
  • removing any financial barriers that would prohibit a patient from obtaining a kit at a pharmacy;
  • educating the patient and caregivers regarding appropriate use; and
  • reducing the amount of deaths in the community related to opiate overdoses.

“At Metro, we want to be clear about one thing: we do not encourage the improper use of opioid drugs; rather, we recognize that Narcan used immediately by family and friends could save the life of someone they hold dear,” said Pete Haverkamp RPh in a press release. “We recognize that not all overdose victims are using illegal drugs, and whatever the cause of the overdose, we want to provide life-saving tools to those who may need it the most.”

“Our mission at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is to improve the health and well being of our communities,” said President and CEO Michael Faas in the same release. “The focus of this program is to be proactive and do what we can to curb the spread of this health epidemic. That’s why we are so pleased to provide these kits—free—to patients upon discharge who have overdosed on an opioid.”

Each Narcan kit includes two doses of the spray with instructions and additional information -- including a list of community resources where an individual, or family member, can find local help, including support groups, shelter, food, addiction services, crisis lines and counseling.

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Kayla Fortney is the senior multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.