From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of West Virginia:

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – The Ohio County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Office is adding a new tool to its arsenal in the effort to save the lives of drug overdose victims, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, and Sheriff Pat Butler announced.

Deputies in Ohio County will soon be equipped with Narcan, also known as Naloxone, a medication which reverses overdoses caused by heroin and prescription painkillers and other opioids.

Legislation passed earlier this year in West Virginia permits police officers to administer the life-saving drug, and the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office will be one of the only law enforcement agencies in the state where each officer will carry it. Federal funding has been secured to provide for the start-up costs.

“It is important to capitalize on every opportunity we have to make our neighborhoods safer and Narcan is a powerful tool in this effort,” said Ihlenfeld. “I’m excited to be part of a program that will save lives and give individuals struggling with addiction an opportunity to seek treatment, and I commend Sheriff Butler for adopting the policy for his department.”

All deputies with the Sheriff’s office will receive training on how to identify the symptoms of an opioid overdose and how to administer the medication.

Opioid drugs, such as prescription painkillers and heroin, are derived from morphine in the opium poppy plant. The morphine contained in these drugs binds to opioid receptors in the brain and increases the production of dopamine, which generates a euphoric feeling in the user. Opioid drugs can also slow breathing enough to deprive the brain and other vital organs of oxygen, which can lead to overdose or death. Opioid antagonist medications like Narcan, also known as Naloxone, restore normal breathing by blocking the opioid drugs.

Law enforcement agencies and community organizations interested in obtaining more information about opioid antagonist medications or scheduling training sessions regarding the legal framework surrounding these medications are encouraged to contact Tara Tighe at the United States Attorney’s Office at (304) 234-0100.