More than 6,000 Narcans distributed by Behavioral Health Department for free

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Two years ago, Governor Doug Bergum signed an executive order allowing the general public to have access to Narcan.

Through a variety of grants, the Behavioral Health Department began handing out Narcan free of charge.

In 2016, Human Services reported 77 overdose deaths in the state. 2017, was the first decline in the number of deaths.

This year alone, the Behavioral Health Department has handed out 6,395 packs of Narcan to the public, with another thousand set to be distributed by the end year.

Giving the public a lifesaving drug,

"To give Narcan to someone and see them actually begin to breathe again, and open their eyes and start to interact is an excellent feeling," says Darci Grunett, North Dakota Opioid Coordinator.

Through the State Opioid Response Grant, the Department of Behavioral Health has the ability to purchase Narcan and distribute it to the public.

"We felt it was important to get a hold of Narcan and distribute it to as many people as possible to try to get a decline in the number of people who are potentially dying from an opioid overdose," said James Knopik, Behavioral Health Administrator.

At $75per box, the Department has spent close to half a million dollars.

These drugs are given out at public events, and conventions around the state.

"To have Narcan available and an overdose does occur, they would be able to administer the Narcan immediately and not have to wait for emergency services or not have to wait for Law Enforcement to arrive," said Knopik.

But the drug isn't a cure all,

"Narcan is only temporary, it is not a permanent fix. Someone who has had a very large dose or something very strong they are going to go right back into their overdose again unless they are maintained with EMS or get to a hospital," said Grunett.

The Department of Behavioral Health hopes this is a starting place for those struggling with an addiction.

"Even if somebody has to be administered with Narcan more than once, each time were giving them that opportunity to get into recovery for their substance abuse disorder," said Knopik.

A second chance at a drug free life.

The Department of Behavioral health also distributes Narcan to law enforcement agencies, treatment programs and public health departments free of charge.