CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Camden County officials and hospitals are working together to battle opioid overdoses destroying its community.
Narcan, a brand name of the drug naxolone, works by counteracting the effects of opioid overdoses. It has saved countless people who would have died without it. And now, more will be available in Camden.
After three years of heroin addiction, Carly Leonard of Washington Township, New Jersey was desperate for help and desperate for a fix.
In 2014, on her way to a rehab facility in Florida, Leonard carried 20 bags of heroin to the airport.
“I would do anything to put another drug in my body,” she said.
Leonard overdosed at the airport and overdosed again on the plane. She was revived with Narcan and hasn’t used opioids since.
“I mean, if it wasn’t for Narcan and the people that helped me, I wouldn’t be here today,” Leonard said.
On Thursday, the 22-year-old told her story to supporters and first responders at Cooper University Health Care, one of four major health care providers in Camden County that have committed to making bulk purchases of Naloxone for police officers.
Camden County Police Officer Tyrrell Bagby says this small white dispenser has become as essential as his firearm and his radio.
“It’s very important right now to put Narcan in as many people’s hands as we can,” explained Dr. James Baird, the associate medical director Jefferson Health New Jersey ER department.
County addiction task force member Dr. James Baird of Jefferson Health New Jersey has seen Narcan save lives but he said some people believe wrongly that if they go to the ER, they will be arrested.
“People are not going to judge them. We want you to get help because we don’t want to see you for the same thing again,” Dr. Baird said.
He said this is a good step but much more needs to be done. Dr. Baird also said the county desperately needs at least 200 new beds for addiction treatment.
Right now, the waiting lists for treatment can be three weeks long.