When the Cole County Sheriffs Department made the decision late last year to have deputies start carrying Narcan, we supported the decision.

The nasal spray is an “opioid antagonist.” It is used on people who have overdosed to block the effects of opioids.

The decision to carry the opioid-blocking nasal spray wasn’t without its drawbacks. Sheriff John Wheeler said at the time that training his deputies to use it would be an issue. He had to take deputies off the road to train them, then paying temporary overtime for the irreplacements.

However, the decision to carry the life-saving nasal spray was a good one.

As we reported Sunday, Cole County Sheriff’s Department deputies have saved the lives of three people this year by administering Narcan to those who have overdosed on opioids. Two were within the past six weeks.

However, more needs to be done to prevent overdoses from occurring in the first place and to treat people after they happen.

One organization that is championing treatment efforts is the Missouri Recovery Network. Programs need to be in place to help prevent people from returning to or continuing their opioid addictions.

“If people get treatment and don’t get recovery services — the after-care, which they’re not getting — then people aren’t going to sustain their recovery,” said Brenda Schell, the network’s executive director.

The organization works to strengthen and empower the recovery community by creating hope, healing and sustainable change through support, education and advocacy, according to its website. It has a goal of eliminating barriers to recovery for all affected by substance use disorders.

The network inspired the Missouri River Regional Library to train six of its employees to use Narcan. The library’s policy is to administer Narcan only if there are two staff members present at the time and only if emergency personnel cannot arrive within three minutes.

The Jefferson City Fire Department often is the first responder to much more than fires, and their firefighters carry Narcan.

We commend these and other area agencies for working together to fight opioid abuse. We also look forward to hearing about more local partnerships that will tackle this epidemic, including solutions in the area of prevention and recovery.

News Tribune