ST. PETERS, Mo. — It's a problem that costs Americans billions of dollars every year, but the St. Charles County Ambulance District is confident that a $1.5 million grant will help them better fight the opioid epidemic by battling withdrawals.
At the St. Charles County Ambulance District, they service more than 50,000 calls per year.
“We see everything each and every day,” said Kyle Gaines. “Everything from shortness of breath to chest pain to sick cases unfortunately to overdose calls.”
Narcan has helped them reduce the number of overdoses from over 600 in 2018 to just over 352 in 2022.
“Narcan has been an incredible tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Gaines.
However, the life-saving spray can have a nasty side effect.
“When Narcan is administered to somebody in an opiate overdose it puts them in a withdrawal state,” said Gaines. “The symptoms of that withdrawal can be absolutely terrible.”
In the past, the ambulance district provided assistance for people looking into treatment facilities.
“Under ordinary circumstances, it can be multiple days between an overdose and the time they can get into that treatment,” said Gaines. “If they’re experiencing those intense symptoms and the only thing for them to relieve those symptoms is to use again you can see why that repeat cycle occurs.”
Thanks to a $1.5 million grant the Substance Abuse Recovery Response Team can now offer users immediate withdrawal relief in the form of Buprenorphine and Suboxone.
“We can provide that on scene within minutes of that opioid overdose,” said Gaines. “Ultimately the goal is to break that cycle.”
The St. Charles County Ambulance District plans to roll out the new medication-assisted withdrawal treatment in October.
Click here for more information on addiction prevention and resources in St. Charles County.