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A Life-Saving Partnership!

When Governor Charlie Baker signed into law “An Act for Prevention and Access to Appropriate Care and Treatment of Addiction,” a chapter of that 2018 legislation expanded access to the life-saving drug naloxone that can temporarily reverse the effect of an opioid overdose.


The expansion through a statewide standing order at a time when the commonwealth was dealing with an opioid-overdose crisis allowed pharmacies to dispense the drug, whose brand names include Narcan, without a prescription to anyone at risk for experiencing such an overdose or others in the position to help them. Updates to existing legislation allowed properly-trained public safety responders to dispense naloxone kits as well.


The expansion of access to the drug, whose distribution for use during an overdose was first piloted in the state in 2007, is credited with helping to save thousands of lives, and kits containing naloxone for delivery in the form of a nasal spray remain a key part of the state’s harm reduction strategy.


On Wednesday, September 28th Springfield Pharmacy delivered 60 naloxone kits to MiraVista Behavioral Health Center. Springfield Pharmacy is covering the cost of the kits which represents a nearly $3,000 commitment to ensuring patients and staff have access to the lifesaving properties of Narcan.


“The standing order allows us to dispense naloxone with or without a prescription to any person that is at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose,” said Alex Wu, Springfield Pharmacy manager and co-owner. “It also allows naloxone to be dispensed to family members, friends, or anyone that may be in the position to help an individual at risk of an overdose.”


Wu said as an opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone, when administered, “displaces opioids from these receptors and reverses their effects.”


“Naloxone has no potential for abuse because it is an antagonist and stops the body’s opioid receptors from being activated,” Wu said. “Since these receptors are not being activated, the euphoric effects that can be seen with opioid abuse are never achieved.”


“A single spray of one dose is instilled into one nostril which can be repeated after 2-3 minutes if there is no response or if the response is minimal,” Wu said.

He added “911 should still be called because often the duration of action of the opioid will be longer than that of naloxone.”


“The first dose of naloxone should be given, followed by an immediate phone call to 911,” Wu said.  “Then if needed, the second dose of naloxone can be given.”


He called fentanyl, increasingly mixed into street drugs because of its cheap cost and cited as a main rise for the ongoing rise in overdose deaths, as “very potent. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is very potent,” Wu said. “Because of this, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to counteract an overdose.”


Wu said Springfield Pharmacy “donated the costs associated with the 60 Naloxone Nasal kits in order to increase the accessibility of the medication to those that may be in need.” Because of the nature of recovery and addiction, it is very difficult to anticipate relapse,” Wu said. “We should all do our part to help support the individual and make sure they have access to treatment.”


The opioid-related overdose death rate in Massachusetts increased 9 percent in 2021 over 2020. The number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Hampden County in 2021 was 211, in Holyoke, 23, Springfield, 84, West Springfield, 15, just to name a few cities and towns with the county where the number of overdose fatalities doubled or more than tripled in the last six years, according to the most recent figures from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.


MiraVista’s recovery programs for substance use include Acute Treatment Services (detox), Clinical Stabilization Services (post-detox), and outpatient services that offer Medication Supported Recovery, counseling, and day treatment programming.


Since opening 17 months ago, MiraVista, which offers psychiatric and substance use recovery treatment to both adolescents and adults, has served 15,000 thousand inpatient bed days, and had over 300,000 outpatient visits.


About MiraVista. MiraVista Behavioral Health Center opened in Spring 2021 to address the critical need for additional inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services in Western Massachusetts. Located on the grounds of the former Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, MiraVista offers psychiatric care services for both adults and adolescents, as well as an array of recovery rehabilitation programs including Acute Treatment Services (detox), Clinical Stabilization Services (post-detox), and outpatient services such as the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), court-ordered services, and outpatient Medication Supported Recovery. Mira Vista cares for thousands of individuals from throughout the Western Mass region each year.


Care. Reimagined. MiraVista Behavioral Health Center was built on the premise of person-centered care. We maintain an organization of thoughtful, empathic, energized team-members committed to creating and maintaining a warm, welcoming, and effective culture of care. Our purpose is to provide compassionate, effective, inspiring care for those challenged by mental health and substance use so they are empowered to lead fulfilling lives.