Two incarcerated people who overdosed inside a Los Angeles County jail on Wednesday survived after being saved by two separate doses of Naloxone, also known as Narcan, administered by fellow inmates.
Narcan is a medicine designed to temporarily counter the effects of an opioid overdose.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) recently released video of the incident that occurred about 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday at the North County Correctional Facility (NCCF) in Castaic, California. Footage shows an inmate collapsing next to another man who was already on the floor. Another individual can be seen running down a staircase to get the medicine, then returning to help the inmates in medical distress.
“Deputies and custody medical staff immediately responded to the dorm and found two inmates on an upper-tier, unconscious, suffering from possible overdoses,” said a statement from LASD. “However, this potential tragic outcome was averted by fellow inmates housed in the same dorm.”
Sheriff’s Naloxone (Narcan) Custody Pilot Project saves Inmates from Overdose.
Two inmates are alive today after being saved by two separate doses of Naloxone also known as Narcan, administered by fellow inmates. Please read the entire story below:https://t.co/dz79lqTjQJ pic.twitter.com/ahojPaXaCY
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) May 28, 2021
“When Deputies arrived, the two unconscious inmates had just received a dose of Narcan, administered by fellow inmates,” the statement continued. “Minutes later, a third inmate began to complain of dizziness.”
According to LASD, all three inmates were taken to a local hospital, treated, and returned to jail hours later.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva recently implemented a pilot program that provides inmates access to Narcan. If administered quickly, the drug can be highly effective at reversing an overdose caused by opioids like heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and morphine. Inmates at some LASD facilities watch an instructional video on administering Narcan during their Inmate Orientation program.
Narcan is described as an opioid antagonist, which means it binds to opioid receptors in the central or peripheral nervous system and blocks them from being activated. Frequent opioid use makes the human body dependent over time, resulting in withdrawal effects when unavailable. Continued use makes the opioid receptors less responsive, causing the body to build up a tolerance, meaning more drugs are needed to produce the desired effect. People addicted to opioids, however, often lose this increased tolerance while incarcerated, making an overdose more likely.
Narcan works for 30-90 minutes before the opioids return to their receptors.
“With opioid overdoses on the rise, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wants to ensure that inmate safety is of utmost priority,” a statement from the agency said. “Currently, two Narcan doses are being distributed in each of the dorms at NCCF.”
The Sheriff’s Department says it plans to expand the program to all custody facilities “if the program continues to save lives.” LASD operates the largest jail system in the nation.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “inmates with opioid use disorder are at a higher risk for overdose following release from incarceration.”