DENVER (KDVR) — For nearly six months, Narcan and fentanyl test strips have been readily available for Denver residents, free, but demand for the program has been hit or miss.
“From September to mid-December, we were getting maybe 10 requests a month,” said Marion Roarke, DDPHE’s addiction resource coordinator.
That all changed on Sunday when five people died in Commerce City after overdosing on cocaine, mixed with illicit fentanyl. The city has now received around 2,400 applications this week alone.
“Most of those [were] of the weekend, it’s clear there’s a huge need for that,” Roarke said.
DDPHE is now working to try to distribute these orders as quickly as possible, with the ultimate goal of getting the kits out within a week of receiving the request.
Narcan, which is a simple nasal spray, can reverse an opioid overdose in seconds. For Englewood resident Amanda Alexander, it was a tool that saved her life after a fentanyl overdose in 2009.
“I wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t worn something as simple as Narcan,” she said.
At the time, Alexander was a regular heroin user and lived in Boston, where illicit fentanyl was circulating.
“At first when I used, I knew something was different,” she said. “It was just really powerful.”
Alexander was revived by a first responder who found her and was carrying Narcan.
She is now in recovery and works as an addiction counselor. She carries Narcan with her wherever she goes and estimates that she has administered it about a dozen times over the past decade.
“It’s as simple as carrying something in your bag, pocket, backpack or whatever you’re carrying. It’s as simple as that,” she said.
She hopes the Commerce City tragedy will serve as a wake-up call that fentanyl is seeping into different drug sources, even those used recreationally.
“I think that’s definitely a huge wake-up call for a lot of communities,” she said. “I hope so.”
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