Baltimore County trains people how to respond use 'heroin antidote'

Participants receive drug that reverses symptoms

TOWSON, Md. - Heroin and prescription pills may be cheap on the streets, but they're costing lives in Baltimore County.

"This isn't a city issue, this is an everywhere issue," said Toni Torsch. 

The local mother lost her 24-year-old son Dan Torsch to a heroin overdose four years ago.  She was instrumental in getting the law passed that gives people easier access to the drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan.  The prescription medicine quickly counteracts overdose symptoms from opiates like heroin that can cause respiratory failure.

"I still have times that I think back to what would have happened if I had had that drug in my hand. I might have been able to save my son," Torsch said.

Possibly saving the lives of loved ones is exactly the goal of new training sessions offered in the county.  For two hours Tuesday night the Baltimore County Health Department walked nearly 20 people through the steps of administering Narcan as a nasal mist. 

“It was presented very well, layman’s terms, easy to understand and something I feel comfortable if I need to do it,” said participant Valli Meeks.

The free training is part of a statewide overdose response program.  The County is one of 13 jurisdictions across Maryland that received funding to arm family and friends with the Narcan kits.

"Our effort is to reach people who are likely to have a friend or a relative who might potentially overdose, and to give them resources so that they would be able to respond to an emergency in that situation," said Dr. Linda Grossman, Bureau Director for Clinical Services at the Baltimore County Health Department.

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Everyone who came out received a packet with information and two vials of Narcan.  The drug is completely safe, non-addictive, and has little to no side effects.  Some participants work with addicts, or in the healthcare field, while others have a first-hand connection with drug addiction. 

“As a parent of someone who deals with addiction, most of the time you feel pretty helpless,” she said.

For one mother who took the training (and requested to remain unidentified), her child’s struggles were too tough to talk about on camera.  But she says the training and the opioid overdose kit she received are invaluable.

“You never know if you'll be there at the moment that's critical, but I feel much more equipped to deal with a potential horrific situation having this kit."

If you missed this training, another session is being held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday night at the Eastern Family Resource Center at 9100 Franklin Square Drive in Rosedale.  You have to sign up to attend.

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