Overdose reversal drug gives hope to PA’s heroin epidemic

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new drug reverses the effects of overdose - drug free pennsylvania

It’s cheap.

“Two bags sells for $40,” said by an undercover police detective.

It’s easy to find.

“I live in Camp Hill. It’s hitting home there. It is everywhere,” said Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed.

It’s lethal.

“It’s highly addictive and highly dangerous,” said Freed.

It’s killing your family, your friends, neighbors and colleagues.

“It doesn’t discriminate between economical background, sex or age,” said Lt. Det. Patrick Glynn of the Quincy Police Department.

Some say it’s Pennsylvania’s biggest problem; heroin.

“Heroin use and abuse is the number one crime problem in the Commonwealth of Pa.,” said Freed.
But even heroin has a weakness. It’s called Narloxone or Narcan.
“We’ve seen it done with success in different places around the country. The use of this drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose,” said Freed.

abc27 recently traveled to Quincy, Massachusetts, an area similar to many Midstate neighborhoods. Just 10 minutes outside of Boston, it is situated between big cities. Officers there were the first in the country to carry Narcan.

“We keep it right in the glove box with a card, sealed with two doses,” said Quincy Officer Bryan Donnelly.
It’s nickname is “The Wonder Drug.”

“It takes all of 15 seconds to put it together — this will be a one twist here and now we are ready to go with our medication,” said Glynn. “It’s very surreal that you would have someone in front of you that’s blue, gray and for all purposes they’re dead and you have this small item that you can insert up their nose and spray and within 30 seconds you can start to see a positive reaction it is simply amazing that you literally have life and death in your hands.”

Lt. Det. Glynn is the commander of the Narcotics unit in Quincy. The success they’ve had using Narcan is shocking.

“Out of the the 355 overdoses, 249 times nasal Narcan was administered it was required, and out of the 249 we reversed 238,” said Glynn.

On a cold night in late March we went undercover with Quincy narcotics detectives. The city is infested with heroin. It took only minutes to spot addicts.

During our ride along we came across heroin addict Greg Beagen who was looking for his next fix.

“It’s just an escape…I escape reality for a while,” said Beagen.

Beagen has battled addiction since he was a teenager and has been hit with Narcan five times. If Quincy Police didn’t carry Narcan, Beagen says he would be dead.

“A lot of us have heroin problems and lately the stuff has been real bad, real potent and with them carrying it on them it saves time. It saves a lot of lives,” said Beagen.

For the Quincy Police Department it’s just another weapon in their arsenal. Police are typically the first to arrive to an overdose. They say Narcan has breathed new life into how they serve and protect their community.
“We are helping the person who is overdosing and saving their life but we are saving the family a whole ton of pain, too,” said Officer Donnelly.

Beagen serves as living proof; Narcan can give second chances.

“It has worked. We have been able to get people into treatment and have them live a productive life afterwards. But in order for them
to do that we need them alive,” said Lt. Det. Glynn.

On Thursday, abc27 will dive into the issue of whether officers in Pennsylvania should start carrying this “Wonder Drug.”

Some have concerns and say it’s just enabling addicts. Others are in favor. Law enforcement officials from around the Midstate will weigh in.

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