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Heroin antidotes available

A recent uptick in heroin overdoses, including one reported death, has shined a light on a local organization that passes out free antidotes.

Max’s Mission has been handing out naloxone in Medford parks, including Monday at Alba Park.

The nonprofit Compassion Highway Project received 45 doses from Max’s Mission, and Jackson County Public Health donated 60 doses of the antidote to Compassion Highway, which passed out the antidote at Hawthorne Park on Sunday.

From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8, Max’s Mission will offer a training on dealing with overdoses at the Medford library. Another training will be held from 3:30-6:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, at the Grants Pass library.

Those who attend the meetings will learn about overdose symptoms and how to administer the antidote.

Last week, emergency service providers saw an increase in heroin overdoses. Medford Fire-Rescue responded to 13 calls from Thursday to Saturday, including one death. While the people receiving the antidote are encouraging to see a doctor or go to a hospital because the antidote can wear off before the heroin is flushed from the system.

Jackson County Health reported they had nine confirmed overdoses that ended up with a hospital admission from Dec. 15-21.

While emergency service providers saw a downturn in heroin overdoses, Julia Pinsky, executive director of Max’s Mission, said it doesn’t mean the bad batch of the drug is gone because antidote have been distributed in recent days by her organization and other sources.

“We don’t know if it’s tapering off because there is a lot of naloxone out there,” she said.

She said her organization expends considerable effort getting the antitode kits out to people

Pinsky formed Max’s Mission after her son died from an overdose in 2013. He was one of four Ashland men to die of an overdose in the winter of 2012-2013. A particularly strong batch of heroin may have killed the men.

Family members, who have loved ones that use opioids, are the ones who often receive the nasal-spray antidote after listening to about five minutes of instruction. A zippered pouch contains the nasal spray, along with written instructions with illustration and a mouth guard in case they also need to deliver mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Julia Pinsky holds NARCAN nasal spray. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]