How Narcan is impacting the local opioid epidemic

In a FOX 32 special report: the price of a life.

Narcan has become a household name - that's how bad our nation's opioid epidemic is. But just how well is it working, and at what cost?

The headlines are filled with dire warnings about the epidemic: the number of victims, the addictive nature, a public health emergency.

Last year in Illinois, 2000 people died from opioid overdoses.

“I get to spend time today with my daughter because of Narcan,” said Mike Young.

Some like Young have been saved multiple times by Narcan or Naloxone -- the opioid antidote that can revive someone suffering from an overdose.

“It’s a temporary fix. It gives an addict another day to make that decision to get clean,” said Jason Beaty.

Last year, the Chicago Fire Department used Naloxone more than 7500 times.

Earlier this month, Cook County Sheriff Commander Patrick Murray says it was surreal when he helped bring a man back to life using Naloxone.

“It wasn't his day to go. Hopefully this is rock bottom for him and he's getting the help he needs,” Murray said.

The man was in the Skokie courthouse for a drug possession and theft case when he was found on the floor of a bathroom.

“It was obvious, he was laid on the ground, there were some clear plastic baggies of white powdery substance believed to be heroin and some needles on the ground,” Murray said.

The man was OK, but is now facing another drug charge.

A state law requires all police officers to carry Naloxone, but due to the cost and lack of training, many departments have not been compliant.

This year, Chicago police are dedicating $200,000 to arm their officers with Naloxone. The Chicago Fire Department will spend $20,000.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office gets their supply of the lifesaving drug free of charge, thanks to grants.

Naloxone comes in many forms, which all vary in price. Without insurance, you can walk into a pharmacy and buy it for as little as $130 to upwards of a ridiculous $4,000.

Users, those in recovery and officials all agree -- Naloxone is needed but there is more to be done.

“What we are doing is not the route you want to go, this is truly just trying to catch people on the back end keep your fingers crossed that they haven't died yet,” said Sheriff Tom Dart.

Sheriff Dart believes those on the front line -- the advocates, first responders and municipalities -- need to work together to really solve the problem.

“That person should be taken from that location and put into a program because they have issues…and that type of thoughtful behavior is not what we are seeing,” Dart said.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced a $16-million-dollar federal grant last month, which will cover new treatment and other services.

On Tuesday, a taskforce in DuPage County will also announce new funding to battle the opioid epidemic.

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