MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Med-Care EMS shared with ValleyCentral they have seen about 300 Fentanyl overdose patients within the last year. They expect that number to increase even more over the course of 2022.
Richard Becerra, Med-Care EMS Clinical Coordinator said they are typically seeing that the drug impacts patients between the ages of 20 to 50.
According to Becerra, Fentanyl is good opioid when it comes to relieving pain and giving a “euphoria” kind of feeling, but taking too much will cause a drop in heart rate and respiratory where you could stop breathing.
500 micrograms of Fentanyl could cause an overdose. It will take one to two minutes for the Fentanyl to kick in and then five to six minutes for someone to go into cardiac arrest. Becerra added at that point, it is difficult to revive a patient.
The major issue Med-Care is running into is their ambulance units only carry two doses of Narcan, a drug that has a reversal effect on Fentanyl.
“In some cases, the patient has ingested such a high amount of Fentanyl that two doses is not enough to reverse the symptoms of it, so we’d have to take them to the hospital where they can get access to more Narcan,” said Becerra.
It is suggested to keep Narcan at home in case of emergency.
According to the CDC, Narcan nasal spray is available in all states. You can either speak with your physician about a prescription or receive Narcan at major pharmacies without a prescription such as Walmart, CVS, and Kroger.
Becerra commented that Fentanyl is a “potent” drug that by the time a patient overdoses, “there’s nothing you can do to reverse it and if you have someone near you that can administer Narcan, that’s great, but if that’s not the case then it can be fatal.”
If you have Narcan in your home, Becerra recommends that you let guests know beforehand as you can not perform Narcan nasal spray on yourself.
Rehabilitation sites are also encouraged as professional therapists are trained in helping patients safely recover.
The recovery process includes patient intake and assessment, detox, addiction treatment, and aftercare.
Patient intake and assessment is a crucial step in the rehab process as addiction specialists will learn about a patient’s individual situation, physical and mental health issues, and potential barriers to recovery to determine the best course of treatment.
Rehabilitation typically lasts 90 days, according to the American Addiction Centers.
Drug rehabilitation sites in the Valley include HTX Addiction Treatment Center – Drug and Alcoholism Rehabilitation (Harlingen), Narconon Fresh Start Texas (Harlingen), The Sendero Group, PLLC (McAllen), and Outcomes Detox & Recovery Center (Brownsville).
For free, confidential help from public health agencies finding substance use treatment, you can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.