Illinois fights back against heroin overdose

Illinois has launched a new attempt in fighting drugs that take thousands of lives every year.

Illinois is now allowing pharmacies to dispense naloxone, or Narcan, without a prescription. It’s the medication that stops the overdose of opioids.

A heroin addict for nine years, J.J. Fugate knows what it feels like to come back after an overdose.

"If it wasn’t for Narcan, I would have ended up overdosing and dying," says Fugate.

Now, at more than six months sober, Fugate thinks more people should have access to the overdose antidote.

However, Kent Webster, paramedic at Massac Memorial Hospital, says he’s concerned people won’t get the proper training, making the situation even worse.

"You just can’t go up somewhere and do CPR if you don’t know how to do it. That’s just going to be like this drug Narcan," says Webster. "You can’t just push it without knowing the side effects."

Those side effects include nausea, vomiting and possible seizures. The medication is administered in a few different ways. One can be through a shot similar to an insulin shot and another is through a nasal spray.

Webster says it can take up to five minutes to start working and when it does, a patient can go into immediate withdrawals.

"Which could also put them into wanting to fight because you did take away the high of the drug," says Webster.

"I was pretty mad an angry but looking back at it today, they saved my life," says Fugate.

Fugate says we can save more lives when families and schools have an easier access to the antidote.

In Kentucky and Tennessee you need a prescription from a doctor to get the overdose medication. In Missouri, pharmacies can sell the antidote to first responders, but only if they’ve had the required training.

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