Lawrence training session teaches how to use Narcan to save someone from an opioid overdose

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About a dozen advocates and people experiencing homelessness gathered this week to learn how to respond to an opioid overdose. 

Chad Brown, who stays at the city-sanctioned camp in North Lawrence, said he attended the free training session because he wants to be prepared to save a life. He has been at the campsite when others have overdosed, and when he was a boy, he discovered his grandmother’s body after she accidentally overdosed on her own medication. 

Although he would not have been able to help his grandmother, he wants to be prepared to resuscitate someone else in case he’s ever in close proximity to an overdose again. 

“I came here just in case someone needs help, I would be able to help them,” Brown said. 

At the free training session, Chrissy Mayer, DCCCA’s chief community based services officer, covered the steps to acquire, store and administer Narcan. 

Narcan is a form of naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. You can request a free naloxone kit from DCCCA. Each kit from DCCCA contains two doses. 

In Lawrence, you can also buy naloxone at Walgreens, though it’s currently behind the counter and you’ll have to ask a pharmacist to retrieve it for you. CVS has naloxone by prescription only. The FDA just approved over-the-counter naloxone earlier this year, and availability in pharmacies still varies.

Lawrence will be getting a Narcan vending machine, hopefully by September, Mayer said. DCCCA is still working out details and looking at hotspots for the location of the machine, but it could be placed somewhere downtown to enhance accessibility, Mayer said. 

Mayer advises that everyone carry naloxone to be prepared just in case. 

How to use naloxone: Peel, place, press

If you ever discover someone you think is having an overdose, rub their sternum with your knuckle, Mayer said. 

“That’ll wake someone up if they’re not suffering from an overdose,” Mayer said. “If they don’t respond, then call EMS and then you can administer naloxone.” 

You peel the container open. You press the naloxone to their nostril and press the dispenser until it’s empty. You only need to put it into one nostril. 

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Mayer holds the box for a naloxone kit and one of the single-dose nasal sprays the kit contains.

“It’s just like using seasonal allergy spray or something like that,” Mayer said. “Naloxone won’t hurt you.” 

It is not possible to overdose on naloxone, and there are no known adverse reactions, Mayer said. You can safely administer it to children, and even dogs, Mayer said. Even if you’re not sure someone is overdosing, it is safe to administer naloxone. 

Naloxone works on all opioids — heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and similar prescription and street drugs — but not other drugs. 

Generally, a person will begin to rouse within 30 to 45 seconds, said Chasity Shaffer, a DCCCA peer support supervisor. 

You can administer CPR to ensure the person is getting oxygen. 

“If you give Naloxone to someone, and after two to three minutes, they’re not responding, you can give them a second dose,” Mayer said. 

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Chrissy Mayer, DCCCA’s chief officer, covered the steps to acquire, store and administer Narcan during a free training session on July 27, 2023.

Nancy Snow, who attended the training session at the Union Pacific train depot, said she has heard of people using seven, eight or even nine doses on a person. Mayer said that nine doses seems excessive, but because you can’t overdose on Narcan, it’s still benign. 

Self-care for the person distributing the Narcan is also essential, Mayer said. Witnessing an overdose is traumatic, she said. And sometimes the person revived can direct anger at the person who saved them: a result of instant opioid withdrawal. 

“Sometimes you’ve got to be prepared for the person to not be very happy because it’s effective as opioid withdrawal and they’re not going to be happy, but they’re breathing,” Mayer said. 

Advocate Kevin Elliott-Snow said he organized the session after hearing from residents of the city-sanctioned camp in North Lawrence. 

“My role is a community liaison, and so I meet with the campers every Monday and the campers requested this, so what inspired me was a direct request from the campers,” Elliott-Snow said. “Nothing about us without us.” 

DCCCA provides a free three-day social detox program, with peer mentor support available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. To make arrangements for yourself or someone else, call 785-843-9262. 

Residents of any Kansas county can request a naloxone kit from DCCCA by visiting

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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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