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How Talking About Drug Use and Overdose Prevention Can Save Lives

September 4, 2020

Talking about an overdose can save a life. At Evergreen, we believe that the awareness and education are effective means to enact change. The more we talk about drug use, the less stigma will prevent people who need help from seeking it.

We are in the midst of an overdose crisis and believe that using harm reduction methods and education are the best way to address this crisis within our community. By identifying key issues affecting people who use drugs, we can make a difference in the lives of directly impacted people.


Did you know that carrying Narcan or Naloxone can save a life? Narcan is a nasal spray used to respond to a drug-related overdose. It’s easy to use and you can get Narcan free of charge from Evergreen Health and the Erie County Department of Health.

To use in the event of an overdose, remove Narcan from its package. Insert the spray portion of the inhaler into nasal cavity of the person who has overdosed and spray. Make sure the person is on their back and that their head is tipped back. Once you have administered the dose, roll the person onto their side and call an ambulance. Leave Narcan at the scene if you plan to leave so that emergency workers will know it has been administered.

Narcan is available at Evergreen Health in Buffalo and Jamestown at the syringe exchange and through our mobile harm reduction unit, visiting Dunkirk and Niagara Falls. The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) will mail you Narcan in plain packaging if you call or text 716-225-5473. Both our drug user services and harm reduction mobile unit can train you on how to administer Narcan. Additionally, this video by the ECDOH shows how to effectively use Narcan.


Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is similar to morphine but 50-100 times more potent. More than ever, fentanyl is being found in drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Since fentanyl is so strong, it increases the risk for accidental overdose, especially when people don’t know they’re taking it.

At Evergreen, we want to spread the message to people who use drugs and those who love people who use drugs that fentanyl is widespread in our community, but also, we are here to provide support. One way we can do so is by providing fentanyl testing strips free of charge. That way, you can know if fentanyl is present in your supply and act accordingly. Both our drug user services and harm reduction mobile unit have free testing strips for anyone who would like them.

Drug User Health Coalition

Evergreen is unique because it employs a harm reduction model and centers those with lived experience. That means we provide nonjudgmental services for people who use drugs and we don’t exclude anyone. From people who actively use drugs to those who formerly used drugs, we are here for you.

Our Drug User Health Coalition is an integral part of our drug user services. We look to people with lived experiences of drug use to give us insight into the services we provide and issues facing the community, while also empowering and providing opportunity for members to advocate for the rights of drug users and fight stigma. If you would like to take part in our Drug User Health Coalition, call 716-847-2441 and ask for drug user services. Together, we can develop resources for people who use drugs.

Ending the Stigma

Evergreen Health’s Ian Eastman sits down with Steve Kilburn at the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene and Alison Epsin, RN, at the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services to discuss response to the overdose crisis and the use of Narcan. To learn more about Narcan, Fentanyl and the Good Samaritan Law, watch the video, below.

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