Southside Harm Reduction, a Minneapolis-based outreach program, is teaching people how to identify and respond to drug overdoses in their communities.
One such class was held on Saturday afternoon at Bench Pressed, a local business in Minneapolis. A handful of people sat in the back of the letter and design shop to learn how to recognize an overdose and administer the opiate-antagonist Naloxone. The hour-long class provided the participants with the knowledge, and their own Naloxone kits, to reduce fatal drug overdoses.
Southside Harm Reduction outreach worker Tommy Lavelle says that the program is careful to center the experiences and trauma of participants in the training. “Most of the participants that I've met have reversed many overdoses, some of them dozens of them in their communities,” Lavelle said.
While rates have dropped since the pandemic, a 2022 Monitoring the Future survey found that 11% of eighth graders, 21.5% of 10th graders, and 32.6% of 12th graders reported using an illicit drug in the past year.
The classes are designed to show people how to recognize an overdose, and how to administer Narcan and other brands of Naloxone in the case of an overdose.
Someone who has overdosed may be unresponsive, awake but not able to talk, or exhibit an erratic pulse or breathing. Some may have pale gray or blue skin, especially around the fingernails and lips. Other symptoms include making snoring, choking or gurgling sounds, and vomiting.
Minneapolis recently decriminalized drug paraphernalia, which includes the needles Naloxone uses to give intramuscular injections. Furthermore, Minnesota has a “Good Samaritan” law that requires “to the extent that the person can do so without danger or peril to self or others, give reasonable assistance to the exposed person.” The law also gives protection from persecution for drug possession up to a felony level.
Southside Harm Reduction Services will offer its next public training on Sept 25 at Duck Duck Coffee, and is also available for private trainings. Naloxone doses are viable for two years after their production date, and should be stored in dark places at room temperature.