BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Faced with an alarming increase in heroin and pain pill deaths, Maryland is now allowing abusers, their families and friends to have Narcan on hand.

Long stocked in ERs, ambulances and doctors’ offices, it can reverse an overdose in minutes.

Mary Bubala reports it’s saving lives.

Lifeless with barely a pulse, Liz overdosed on heroin. Her friends called for help. Once medics arrived, the power of Narcan saved her life. Within minutes of the injection, Liz was awake and actually talking.

“Before this medicine was invented, I would not have made it back from that,” she said.

Ginger Rosela’s son died of a heroin overdose. She now teaches others how to use Narcan. Those who attend who classes are sometimes in the best position to help overdose victims: loved ones, friends, co-workers.

Since 2014, nearly 20,000 people have been trained on how to use Narcan through Maryland’s Overdose Response Program.

The state can account for 420 times it has been used, but not everybody reports, so that number cold be even higher.

Critics argue that making Narcan available only green lights heroin and pain pill abuse.

“That’s ridiculous. It gives the addict a chance to go into rehab, a chance to live, a chance to try again,” said Rosela.

“It was like a really big turning point for me,” Liz said.

Liz says she’s stopped using, and wants others to learn from her experience.

“[It] was so powerful to me and made such a huge impact in my life,” she said.

You still have to seek medical attention after being given Narcan. It wears off within about 90 minutes and a patient can slip back into an overdose state.

Courses are taught throughout our area on how to adminster Narcan properly.

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