Michael’s Hope is hosting a free Narcan training session on Feb. 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Mattituck Fire Department.
Narcan (generic name: naloxone) is a drug that reverses overdoses by temporarily blocking the effects of opioids — including heroin and prescription pain medications, allowing a stricken individual to regain consciousness and resume normal breathing. Without the intervention, overdose victims often die.
Narcan is usually administered through the victim’s nasal passage; in November the FDA approved an easy-to-use nasal spray form of the drug.
Paul Maffetone, of Laurel, watched his older brother Michael suffer from addiction — first to pain pills prescribed after a work-related hand injury, then heroin — and die from a heroin overdose in February 2012 at age 29. (He recounted his family’s struggle and pain in a SoutholdLOCAL interview in November.)
Maffetone founded Michael’s Hope, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness about the growing heroin epidemic. Denial is a major obstacle in the fight to eradicate the drug.
“This drug has no bias,” Maffetone says. “It finds its was into the hands of anybody. Parents, please stop saying “NOT MY KID” and starting realizing that it is your kid and everyone’s kid.”
Opiate overdose fatalities have risen as opiate use and addiction has increased. The number of opiate overdose deaths in Suffolk County had increased by more 72 percent between 2004 and 2011 — before Narcan was first made widely available in 2012. Opiate overdose deaths peaked in 2011 at 191.
In 2015, there were 126 opiate overdose deaths — and 483 Narcan overdose reversals, according to tentative numbers provided by the county health department.
Maffetone says he’s taken up the fight because he doesn’t want others to go through what he and his parents experienced.
“My brother was my hero, my best friend, my mentor, my protector,” Maffetone said in a Michael’s Hope Facebook page post about the upcoming event.
“I watched how his life became taken over by this drug. I watched him lose everything. Visits in jail, the day by day struggles when he was home, the withdrawals, the lies, the stealing, the pain in my parents and myself, then the ultimate consequence,” he wrote.
“I watched my brother’s life leave his body after he overdosed in my bathroom in February of 2012. The pain of losing my brother and my parents losing their child… This is something I never want ANYBODY to go through!”
Maffetone and two friends are filming a documentary, “Killing the Stigma: The truth of opioids on Long Island,” interviewing individuals in recovery and families who are coping with loss.
On Feb. 4, Maffetone will give a presentation about Michael’s Hope from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Robert Delagi, Suffolk County director of emergency medical services and public health will conduct the Narcan training from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Delagi will distribute up to 100 free home Narcan kits to people who participate in the training that evening.
The Mattituck Fire Department is located at 1000 Pike Street in Mattituck.
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