A community coalition dedicated to raising awareness and addressing concerns resulting from substance use and misuse in Windham and Raymond will offer free virtual training in the use of Narcan to the community on May 18 and May 27.
The training is sponsored by Be The Influence and the city of Portland, and can help prevent death from overdoses by reversing the effects of opiates. Because it is a virtual presentation, training can be completed from home and takes about an hour from start to finish.
According to Laura, Morris, executive director of Be The Influence, a community collaborative designed to educate and help prevent substance misuse in Windham and Raymond, learning how to safely administer Narcan can mean the difference between life and death.
“Everybody should be equipped for this because you never know,” Morris said. “You could possibly save a life. Wherever people can help, this training can help reduce overdose deaths.”
Although it is usually administered by paramedics and emergency responders, Narcan can be administered by anyone who has been properly trained in its use. Those attending the virtual training sessions will receive instruction about risk factors for an opioid overdose, as well as how to recognize and respond by administering Narcan.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, works by blocking opioids from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and only works on those overdosing from opiates such as heroin and morphine.
Morris said that residents wishing to participate in the virtual Narcan training must register at firstname.lastname@example.org. Names and email addresses of participants will not be shared with others and training can be done confidentially. Free samples of Narcan will also be available at a local site to be announced soon.
Along with co-sponsoring the virtual Narcan training, Be The Influence is continuing to work with and encourage students to become involved and learn about the dangers of drugs and how to make healthy decisions despite being away from classrooms during the pandemic, Morris said.
“The BTI Youth Public Service Announcement Contest that targeted the dangers of vaping and alternatives to self-medication is currently on our website and BTI Facebook page as well as the American Cancer Society website,” she said. “Please encourage other youth to submit by sending their 30- or 60-second video to email@example.com.”
Windham Middle School students that have submitted PSAs so far include Zocia LaWind, Sophia Gugliuzza, Dominic Cataldi and Daphne Cyr.
Other local students also were part of a focus group on May 7 to create a PSA about how to cope with the coronavirus without substances.
“It is intended to raise awareness of children experiencing trauma who are self-medicating,” Morris said. “The student PSAs show how to overcome trauma and anxiety without medications.”
RSU14 students also partnered with peers in Yarmouth, Bath and Gorham to enter a PSA contest sponsored by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with SEED, or Students Empowered to End Dependency.
Morris said PSA contests in general that are promoted by Be The Influence try to teach the concept of resilience to students.