Is naloxone reducing the opioid epidemic?

KENT COUNTY, MICH. - With naloxone, the opioid-overdose antidote carried by many rescuers, making local headlines twice this week, WZZM wanted to see if the new accessibility of the drug is actually changing the landscape of the opioid overdose epidemic.

With naloxone , the the opioid-overdose antidote carried by many rescuers, making local headlines twice this week, WZZM wanted to see if the new accessibility of the drug is actually changing the landscape of the opioid overdose epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2015 was the worst year on record for opioid deaths with more than 33,000 people killed.

Kent County experienced a similar trend, said epidemiologist Brian Hartl.

"In 2015 we had probably our peak year in opioid related deaths," he said. Adding that, "in 2016 we actually saw a decrease in the number of deaths due to opioids."

But Hartl said it is still unclear if the broader accessibility of naloxone is actually decreasing opioid usage. He said Kent County Health Department is in the process of aggregating naloxone usage from local agencies, including police, fire and emergency medical technicians.

"We have a data from the emergency department visits overdose," Hartl said. "It's difficult for our data to show what that overdosed was due to."

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