OPIOID CRISIS: 'Narcan saves lives' - Chattanooga doctor explains how the life-saving drug works
In an effort to save a generation, Narcan is becoming more readily available at hospitals in Chattanooga.
In the last year 593 patients were treated with Narcan at Erlanger hospital-- and so far this year CHI Memorial has had to give 389 doses.
Even with the administered doses, nearly 2,000 people died from opioid overdoses in Tennessee last year. Doctors say if everyone was equipped with Narcan, things may have ended differently.
It's the one pharmaceutical doctors count on when time is running out.
"Narcan saves lives," said Dr. Deann Champion with CHI Memorial.
CHI Memorial began giving overdose patients free kits in July containing Narcan, hoping to save lives across the Tennessee Valley.
"You basically just put it in the patient's nose and squeeze it and it dispenses the medication up the nasal passages and it's absorbed into the mucus membranes there and that's all you have to do," Dr. Champion told Channel 3.
These kits are being used to cut down on a shocking statistic from 2018.
"There were 1837 deaths in Tennessee from overdoes," said Champion.
Doctor Champion says Narcan competes for the same receptors in your brain that opioids do.
"It blocks those receptors and thus blocks the effects of the opioids," the doctor explained.
Narcan has saved countless lives, but she says it can make patients physically stronger when administered.
"They can become violent because we don't always know what we are reversing. We don't know what drug they took always and they can be difficult to restrain sometimes," said Champion told Channel 3.
Still a small price to pay for a second chance at life.
"Those effects are usually gone within two hours and two hours versus being dead is worth it," Champion added.
She hopes to end an epidemic after one of her patients died from an overdose.
"He had an 8-year-old daughter at home. As a physician that breaks my heart. So if we can save one life, save one daddy or one mommy, then we've done something," concluded Champion.