PITTSFIELD — Opiate addicts, their families and loved ones in Berkshire County now have access to a tool which may save the lives of potential overdose victims.
The Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative announced this week that Narcan is available throughout the county.
Jennifer Kimball, spokeswoman for the BOAPC said getting Narcan into the hands of people who would benefit from it is especially important in an area as geographically spread out as Berkshire County.
Overdoses, she said, can stop someone's breathing in as little as 5 minutes, making rapid intervention crucial.
"There are very few places in the county where an ambulance can get to you in 5 minutes," Kimball said.
Opioid abuse has reached crisis levels across the state — including in the Berkshires. More than 1,000 people died in Massachusetts from an overdose in 2014.
Narcan is the brand name of the drug naloxone, which has been shown to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose by temporarily blocking the drug's access to the opioid receptors in the brain.
"Naloxone is simple to administer intra-nasally. There is no potential for abuse, and administering it to someone who is not actually overdosing will not result in harm," according to the BOAPC.
The BOAPC said "rescue kits," containing two doses each are available at the Tapestry Health offices in Pittsfield and North Adams and at the four CVS Pharmacy locations in Berkshire County.
Free kits will be available from Tapestry for those, "at high risk of witnessing a potentially fatal overdose," including heroin and opioid abusers and their friends and family, according to the BOAPC statement.
Trainings in Narcan administration are available at the Pittsfield Tapestry office on Wendell Avenue on a walk-in basis and by appointment at the North Adams office on Church Street.
No prescription is required for Narcan and a brief training and demonstration of its proper use is provided,
People can also acquire the two-dose rescue kits from CVS Pharmacies located in Pittsfield, North Adams, Lenox and Great Barrington MassHealth insurance recipients can receive a kit for a co-pay between nothing and $3.50. People with private insurance can get a kit for a co-pay of about $20, according to the BOAPC.
Narcan doses are also available free of charge to attendees of the weekly Learn to Cope support meetings held at 1 Tor Court, Pittsfield on Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
More information about the group and meetings is available at www.learn2cope.org.