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Narcan training for harm reduction to be held at Bee’s Knees

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For Molly Swift, reducing the harm from widespread substance overdoses is a matter both personal and professional.

“I’ve seen my loved ones go through substance abuse disorders,” said Swift. “A lot of my kids’ friends. Seeing that younger population so badly impacted or affected has really been very hard to watch.”

A free harm reduction session will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at The Bee’s Knees, located at 211 10th St.

Swift, the owner of Fine Roots Marketing, an Augusta consulting agency, has coordinated an upcoming harm reduction session, geared toward local businesses, in which participants will be trained in how to administer naloxone. Naloxone, usually sold under the brand name Narcan, is an FDA-approved medicine used as an emergency treatment for acute opioid overdosage. Narcan is effective for rapidly reversing the effects of overdose of opioids such as codeine, morphine, heroin and fentanyl.

“I got myself trained on Narcan a couple of years ago after a loved one overdosed,” said Swift. “I wanted to make sure that I had Narcan on me at all times.”

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Deaths due to opioid overdose have increased nationally, statewide and locally. The 2020 Georgia District Opioid Report by the Georgia Department of Public Health notes more than 60 fatalities by fentanyl overdose and nearly 80 by overdose of other opioids that year in the East Central Georgia district, which includes Richmond and Columbia counties.

“I felt that I needed to do something,” said Swift. “In the last couple of years we’ve seen more and more people succumb to overdoses, particularly those that are cut up with other substances.”

The training session, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for Wednesday morning at The Bee’s Knees café downtown, one of Swift’s marketing clients. The session will be brief, she says, as Narcan is an easy to administer medication. The training will be provided by Dolly McCurry, harm reduction specialist and recovery coach at Focus on Recovery Augusta, and will include a question and answer portion along with the training.

McCurry will discuss how to administer the treatment, in the form of a nasal applicator, as well as what physical responses to look for and other protocols for an emergency overdose situation. Narcan kits will also be available for free.

After receiving training herself, Swift started trying to work with her clients to figure out how to provide a means of Narcan distribution throughout the community, though the COVID-19 pandemic halted those initial efforts. Though all are welcome to Wednesday’s session, the event is geared toward local businesses, as Swift noted certain industries, such as food and beverage, are more likely to encounter substance abuse emergencies.

“You’re going to have a lot of people who aren’t necessarily abusing substances themselves but are likely to be within that network of people,” she said. “It’s just part parcel of the industry. It just makes sense to provide them with the tools to find something that is probably going to be closer at their doorstep than it is in other locations.”

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Swift notes that it has been a struggle to gauge the reaction that the harm reduction effort will likely have because of the stigma surrounding addiction and harm reduction. But she also says that, thanks to the willingness of Focus on Recovery to help offer education and resources, she definitely plans to continue.

“It helps prevent fatalities,” said Swift. “It can revive someone from near death. It’s free, it’s legal and anybody can use it. I would love to see how, what kind of response that gets. But regardless, I’m going to try again.”

For more information visit the Fine Roots Marketing Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/finerootsmarketing, or the Focus on Recovery Augusta website at https://www.foraugusta.org/.

Skyler Q. Andrews is a staff reporter covering education in Columbia County and business-related topics for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected].

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