WATERBURY — Residents in the Waterbury region will have easier access to a lifesaving medication used to reverse overdoses, thanks to the American Savings Foundation and Wheeler’s Family Health and Wellness Center.

The foundation has awarded Wheeler a $2,000 grant to purchase and provide Naloxone (NARCAN).

Used with medication-assisted treatment for addiction, individual and group therapies and integrated primary care provided in Waterbury, NARCAN is a vital tool for individuals and families who come to Wheeler for addiction treatment, a key service in the organization’s continuum of care.

The Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center recently moved from 100 Jefferson Square to an expanded community health center at 855 Lakewood Rd.

Wheeler will match the grant 1:1, providing NARCAN for residents and families who may not otherwise have access.

Services are available on a walk-in or scheduled basis, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Wheeler now provides and encourages telephonic and telehealth services, even for new patients.

NARCAN can be accessed at many local pharmacies listed at www.drugfreect.org, including the Genoa Healthcare pharmacy on-site at the new Wheeler center.

Approximately two dozen pharmacies in Waterbury have the medication available, according to the site.

“The foundation recognizes the importance of addressing opioid abuse and is pleased to fund solutions and strategies through partner agencies such as Wheeler,” said Maria Falvo, president and CEO of the American Savings Foundation.

“The opioid epidemic impacts all the communities we serve, and this program will save lives.”

NARCAN offers portable, effective emergency overdose care for patients between treatment sessions. It is easily administered in a nasal spray and quickly reverses the symptoms of overdose, allowing the patient to get to an emergency department.

NARCAN has saved tens of thousands of lives since 1996.

The need is pressing, and the services are life-saving. Opioid overdose deaths have doubled in Connecticut since 2012, and the state has the eighth highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S.

Final data from the chief medical examiner in 2019 revealed that Waterbury had the second-highest number of overdose deaths in the state and a significant increase over previous years, with double the number of residents who died as compared to 2017.

“We know conclusively that access to NARCAN plays a vital role in recovery from substance use disorder,” said Sabrina Trocchi, Ph.D., MPA, Wheeler’s president and chief executive officer.

“At all of our outpatient locations, we are committed to making it available, even at intake, so patients and their families can feel comfortable taking that first step to recovery and knowing that we are partners in their journey. We are so appreciative of the foundation for their investment in keeping Waterbury safer and healthier.”

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