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It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: finding your child, lying helpless and unconscious, the victim of a heroin overdose, and there’s nothing you can do. But that has changed. Now, there is a way you just might save your child’s life.

The statistics on New Jersey’s opioid epidemic are frightening. In 2014 alone, there were 781 heroin-related deaths in the state. Many of those deaths may have been prevented if someone had administered a dose of naloxone, a drug developed to reverse an opioid overdose in progress.

Naloxone, or Narcan, comes in two forms – an intramuscular injection (think EpiPen) or a nasal spray. When administered, it blocks the affects of heroin on the respiratory and neuromuscular systems, effectively stopping an overdose in its tracks. Since 2014, police and first responders have deployed Narcan thousands of times – but the staggering number of overdose deaths in the state during that same period proves first responders can’t always save the day.

Legislators and healthcare providers are working to make sure everyone has access to this lifesaving drug. State law protects anyone who administers Narcan from civil or criminal liability. Free county-sponsored trainings are regularly available in Camden, Gloucester, Ocean, Atlantic and Salem counties. Participants learn to identify an overdose and administer the nasal spray. Those who complete training receive a Narcan kit.

Even if you don’t make it to a training session, Narcan is now even easier to get. CVS Pharmacy recently announced it will sell the overdose antidote over-the-counter at its New Jersey stores.

Law enforcement officials say if you have a friend or family member at risk for heroin or other opioid overdose, you should carry Narcan with you and know how to administer it.

For more information about free Narcan training sessions in Camden County, visit addictions.camdencounty.com.

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