ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In an attempt to quell the opioid crisis that's gripped the U.S. and Central Florida, Orange County officials will be handing out the life-saving nasal spray Narcan to residents who live in areas hit hardest by the epidemic.
So far this year, there have been 156 heroin-related overdoses in Orange County, nine of which were fatal, according to public health officials. Many of those cases are concentrated in an area along Orange Blossom Trail between Americana Boulevard and Kaley Avenue, a news release said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Government and Aspire Health Partners have teamed up to provide residents in that area with resources to combat opioid addiction.
Starting Tuesday, a series of emergency educational sessions will be held at the Holden Heights Community Center.
Residents will be offered access to Narcan -- a nasal spray used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose -- instructions on how to administer the life-saving drug, information on local drug treatment advisers and access to counselors.
Orange County Fire Rescue personnel will also be distributing that information later in the week. For those unable to attend the sessions or for those Orange County residents outside of the Holden Heights neighborhood, resources are available at OCFLHeroesAgainstHeroin.org.
While the finalized numbers for 2017 are not yet available, officials did say that deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs are on the rise. There were 87 fentanyl-related deaths in Orange County in 2016, compared to 142 deaths just between January and October 2017.
Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Office used Narcan on dozens of patients last year. The opioid antidote is administered through a spray in the nose and works by knocking the opioid out from the opiate receptors in the brain.
The patient should begin breathing regularly and regain consciousness within five minutes. in Florida, Narcan is available at CVS without a prescription.
For more information about the opioid crisis and its effect on Central Florida, visit ClickOrlando.com/OpioidNation.