Free Narcan training offered as five overdoses, one death reported so far in 2021


WESTFIELD – The opioid crisis continues in Westfield in 2021 with five overdoses and one overdose-related death reported since Jan. 1.

To help minimize the opioid deathtoll and educate residents, a free Narcan training is being offered Feb 1.

C.O.R.E. (coalition for outreach, recovery, and education), is partnering with the Westfield Health Department and Tapestry Health for the free Zoom seminar from 6-7:30 p.m. Email [email protected] to register.

Kathi Catugno, C.O.R.E. coordinator, said the numbers show that the crisis hasn’t slowed down.

“Our numbers for 2020 for Westfield are not finalized but currently we estimate we had 47 residents of Westfield overdose in 2020 and we had five deaths. Since Jan. 1, 2021 we had five overdoses and one death,” said Catugno. “These statics tell you everyone should attend a Narcan training.”

According to Catugno, it is estimated that 23 million people in United States have a substance use disorder. An estimated 81,000 people died from an overdose in 2020.

“I don’t think there is anyone in this community that has not been effected by the opioid epidemic,” she said. “Stigma prevents those struggling families living the nightmare to reach out for support and receive help.”

Catugno said C.O.R.E. received a Baystate Noble FY2020 opioid grant and was able to purchase Narcan and other program supports, including trainings.

“Narcan will be used for outreach in our DART program and provide community training,” said Catugno. “We have created a virtual training for Narcan due to COVID and hope to return to in-person training. This grant has also given the DART program additional resources for individuals with substance use disorder.”

Catugno said Narcan, a brand name of naloxone, is a nasal spray used to counter the effects of opioid overdose. It can prevent overdose deaths if applied quickly and is available over the counter. Catugno said it is one defense against opioid abuse, as is communication.

“We as a community need to talk about harm reduction for substance use disorder. Narcan is just one of those steps,” she said. “The community needs to learn what an opioid overdose is and how to recognize and respond to an overdose. By learning to administer Narcan to reverse an opioid overdose is saving a life.”

Catugno said there are no borders when it comes to addiction.

“Substance use disorder does not discriminate against social economics, ethnicity or age,” she said. “We as a community must educate our young, support those in recovery, and help those with substance use disorder.”

Tapestry Health staff will provide the training.

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