New medication being used to fight heroin epidemic

FALMOUTH, Ky. (AP) — A new effort is underway in Kentucky’s fight against the heroin epidemic.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/1gjOrvF ) reports patients at an experimental clinic in northern Kentucky have begun receiving kits containing the medication naloxone. The drug blocks the brains’ receptors from heroin and other opioids.

The Naloxone Harm Reduction Center in downtown Falmouth saw a handful of patients Saturday and gave out kits containing two doses of the drug and the materials to take it. The kits are possible due to fundraising efforts by a group that started http://www.tabathasfight.org, a website in memory of Tabatha Roland, 24, a Boone County resident who died of a heroin overdose earlier this year.

“We’re all learning here,” said Dr. Jeremy Engel, a St. Elizabeth Physicians family doctor and activist who has been at the forefront of the fight against heroin.

“I kind of look at Northern Kentucky as an incubator,” Engel said about using naloxone to curb heroin abuse.

Officials say the kits will save lives in the event of a heroin overdose.

Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Director Van Ingram said he looks for the clinic to create a pilot program for others to follow.

Timothy Strickley, 22, of Ludlow was one of about six bused to the clinic from the Grateful Life Center in Bellevue, a Transitions Inc. Recovery Center for those afflicted with the disease of addiction.

“I’m not doing it (heroin) again, but I have a lot of friends – well, ex-friends – who need it,” he said.

Strickley said he took heroin for three years before becoming homeless and seeking help.

“I was tired of living the way I was,” Strickley said. “I was tired of making my mom cry.”

The men from Grateful Life were glad to get the kits, but some said they were skeptical of doctors giving naloxone to addicts.

“At first I thought, it’s good — if it isn’t abused,” said Steven Karcher, 35, of Georgetown, who has been clean for four months.

He said he decided it was a good move after learning the goal is to save lives and then get treatment for addicts.

“If they didn’t have it, they’re still going to be doing (heroin),” Karcher said. “So they might as well have it and maybe get saved.”

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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