‘Near and present danger’: Virginia nonprofits offer Narcan, training

Oakton, Va. — A law passed this year in Virginia allows nonprofit groups that train people how to administer the drug Narcan to actually give it out now too.

Thanks to an order from the Virginia department of health, you no longer need a prescription. That’s how dozens of people who showed up at a church in Oakton were able to walk out with a two-pack of the overdose-reversal drug.

“So easy,” is how Ginny Atwood Lovitt described using the nasal spray.

A bill passed by the Virginia assembly allows the Chris Atwood Foundation and other groups the ability to pass out Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. (WTOP/John Domen)
A bill passed by the Virginia assembly allows the Chris Atwood Foundation and other groups the ability to pass out Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. (WTOP/John Domen)

Ginny Atwood Lovitt led a demonstration in how to properly administer Narcan to a crowd in Oakton, Virginia, on Saturday Aug. 19. (WTOP/John Domen)
Ginny Atwood Lovitt led a demonstration in how to properly administer Narcan to a crowd in Oakton, Virginia, on Saturday Aug. 19. (WTOP/John Domen)

Ginny Atwood Lovitt led a demonstration in how to properly administer Narcan to a crowd in Oakton, Virginia, on Saturday Aug. 19. (WTOP/John Domen)
Ginny Atwood Lovitt led a demonstration in how to properly administer Narcan to a crowd in Oakton, Virginia, on Saturday Aug. 19. (WTOP/John Domen)

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A bill passed by the Virginia assembly allows the Chris Atwood Foundation and other groups the ability to pass out Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. (WTOP/John Domen)
Ginny Atwood Lovitt led a demonstration in how to properly administer Narcan to a crowd in Oakton, Virginia, on Saturday Aug. 19. (WTOP/John Domen)
Ginny Atwood Lovitt led a demonstration in how to properly administer Narcan to a crowd in Oakton, Virginia, on Saturday Aug. 19. (WTOP/John Domen)
“It’s so easy to use there’s really not a whole lot to demo,” she told the crowd at the start of her demonstration.

Her lesson started with a demonstration on what to do if you find someone who may have overdosed, including positioning and how to provide emergency breaths.

“You want to get it all the way up there,” said Lovitt as she demonstrated with a spring-loaded canister meant to simulate a real dose. “When you push a live dose it makes a little popping noise.”

The Narcan dosages distributed come in packs of two, and while they normally retail for about $75, a donation from the tech company Leidos is the reason everyone was able to walk out with one for free Saturday.

Leidos CEO Roger Krone said he first learned about the problem with opioid addiction from an employee who lost a son.

“The numbers are just astounding,” Krone said. “More people in 2016 will die (sic) from opioid addiction than the total number people who died in the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan combined.”

“We really partner with organizations who are making a difference,” he added.

Members of the Virginia legislature who helped lead the bill that allows the Chris Atwood Foundation, and other groups like it, the ability to pass out Narcan were also on hand.

“This is a near and present danger,” said Virginia Delegate John Bell. “It affects every income group, every ethnic group, every part of Virginia, every part of America. This is not something that is just some people under a bridge somewhere. It’s everyone. And we need to fight it.”

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