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Anne Arundel Police Have New Tool To Reverse Heroin Overdoses

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Police are now armed to not only protect but to save lives. It’s called Narcan and it’s used to reverse a heroin overdose. But is it effective in the war on drugs and crime?

Rochelle Ritchie posed that question to drug treatment specialists and police officers using the nasal spray to prevent drug deaths.

Narcan is now being used by police officers in Anne Arundel County to combat a growing heroin problem. But once the addict is taken to the hospital, there’s no guarantee they won’t go back to shooting up.

It’s an ugly disease that is quickly spreading in Anne Arundel County with 85 heroin overdoses, 12 of them fatal.

“Heroin has become a bit of a problem regionally,” said Lt. T.J. Smith, Anne Arundel County Police.

Now, EMTs in Anne Arundel County are not the only ones armed with Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the threat of an overdose. Just this week, police officers had to use the inhalant on a heroin addict just 10 minutes after getting training.

“The person revived and recovered within minutes,” said Smith.

Drug specialists say once a person is administered Narcan and taken to the hospital, it’s a crucial moment in getting them permanent help.

“Hopefully you use that moment because they are scared to get them to accept help,” said Gale Sauer.

That fear helped save one mother’s son, but the help came from out of state.

“Guess what happened after the EMTs took my son to the ER? I was called to pick him up,” said Melissa Eppinger. “The only resolve to getting my son treatment was out of state.”

It’s stories like that that have treatment facilities begging for new legislation and programs.

“Maryland is in a crisis and we need the leadership in the state to take a firm stance the leadership in other states have,” Sauer said.

The questions remain on whether it does anything to truly put a dent in the addiction of heroin and drug-related crimes. While that is a concern for police, they are also focused on…

“Saving lives. We are in the business of enforcing laws, so we are still enforcing laws for drugs. At the same time, if someone is an overdose victim, at that point, we are working on saving their life,” Smith said.

Anne Arundel County Police say their officers have so far deployed Narcan three times since being trained on how to use it. All three of those people survived.

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