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Idahoans battle with heroin addiction

Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-12 01:05:59-05

Heroin and opioid overdoses is now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The problem is not contained to a single region of the country, but every state in the union -- including Idaho, which had over 200 deaths in 2015 alone, according to the CDC.

An increase of prescription opioids is what the American Society of Addiction Medicine points to as the start of four of every five heroin users in the country.

“In Idaho, we lose an Idaho citizen at the rate of one every 45 hours to unintentional opioid overdose,” said Ginny Gobel of Learn To Cope, a support group for families of addicts.

One of those citizens was Michael Campbell, who used prescribed painkillers for a sports injury.

The addiction resulted in Campbell eventually taking a mix of opioids, resulting in an overdose -- and his death.

"He wasn't the stereotypical guy you would think it would happen to," Connect The Pieces Chris Thomas said.

To help combat the risk of overdosing deaths, the Idaho Legislature passed a law last year that would allow anyone over the age of 18 to purchase Naloxone without a prescription.

Naloxone is a powerful opioid antagonist that works within minutes of a person who is undergoing an overdose. It can be used intravenously or through the nostrils.

“It will kick the opioid off the receptor allowing us to even wake up, stand up, and walk away," pharmacist Liz Oler explained. “We want to help the community. We want to give second chances to people and make a difference in their lives."

Although Naloxone can reverse the effects of an overdose, the recovery of an addict takes much longer.

“This just saves the life. We still need to address the underlying problems,” Oler said.

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