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RIDOH Asks Public to Keep Naloxone Handy, Aid With Overdoses

PROVIDENCE — More than a third of the opioid overdose callsemergency medical services responded to in Rhode Island in 2018 occurred inpublic places, leading Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott to repeat a

call for the public to prepare themselves with naloxone doses in the event ofsuch an emergency.

The data, published on March1 in theRhode Island Medical Journal, indicate that 34.2 percentof the opioid overdoses that EMS responded to in 2018 occurred in publicplaces. That figure was 29.6 percent in 2016. Examples of the public placesinclude streets, parking lots, restaurants, stores, and beaches, according tothe Health Department.

“Naloxone can be purchasedover the counter at pharmacies throughout Rhode Island, and it is as easy touse as nasal spray,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH.“We are starting to make some progress in addressing the drug overdose crisis.However, as this report demonstrates, this is a changing epidemic. With so many

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overdoses happening in everyday places, and sometimes in plain sight, everyonecan play a role in preventing overdoses and saving lives.”

For the first 10 months of 2018, Rhode Islandsaw a 6.1% decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths, compared to the first 10months of 2017. A total of 324 Rhode Islanders died due to drug overdose in allof 2017. Rhode Island’s 2018 overdose data should be finalized in the comingweeks, as toxicology results are still pending for many of the deaths thatoccurred in November and December.

“By carrying naloxone andusing it when it is needed, everyone has the ability to be a first responderand save a life,” said Jason Rhodes, Chief of the Center for Emergency MedicalServices at RIDOH.