Washington health officials are joining the U.S. surgeon general in urging more people to carry naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Naloxone already is carried by many first responders, including police in Lacey and Olympia and Thurston County Sheriff’s deputies. Now health officials say more people — including those at risk of an opioid overdose, their friends and family — should keep the medication on hand and learn how to use it.
“Like many states, Washington is in the midst of an opioid epidemic,” Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a news release. “As we work to address this complex problem we must make sure the people struggling with opioid use have services and medicine that can literally save their lives.”
The surgeon general’s advisory issued Thursday noted overdose deaths from opioids nationwide doubled from 2010 to 2016. It also urged people to learn the signs of an opioid overdose, such as pinpoint pupils, slowed breathing and loss of consciousness.
Thurston County last week filed a lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers and wholesale distributors, saying they are responsible for the “epidemic levels” of opioid addiction in Thurston County.
Thurston County joins hundreds of states, cities and counties that have filed similar suits.