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Why does law enforcement need Narcan?
Texas Friday
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Mark Busbee, FRIDAY Program Lead Instructor Opioids are a class of drugs that includes codeine, heroin, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxycontin,
morphine, and other pain-relieving drugs. They can be derived naturally from the poppy plant (Heroin
and Morphine), or they can be manmade semi-synthetic (Hydrocodone and Oxycontin) or synthetic
drugs (Tramadol and Fentanyl) developed in a lab. Opioids are often prescribed for pain, cough, or
diarrhea, but can lead users to develop a tolerance for the drug, leading to dependence and addiction.
The United States has about 4.6% of the world’s population but uses 80% of all opioids and 99% of the
world’s supply of hydrocodone. In 2019, America suffered over 70,000 overdose deaths, nearly 50,000
of them by opioids.
Even when following a doctor’s directions, patients can become addicted, and once addicted, they may
switch to an illegal substance such as heroin. Not all those who suffer an overdose were abusing the
drug. Sometimes those suffering from debilitating diseases find themselves accidentally taking too
much of the drug. Others may accidentally ingest the drug and not have a tolerance for it. Accidentally
ingesting the drug can commonly occur with children, the elderly, and even with law enforcement. Law
enforcement officers often find themselves carrying out searches for drugs, and not every substance an
officer finds can be readily identified. With drugs such as fentanyl, even breathing in a very small
amount of the powder can result in an overdose. Opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain,
causing respiratory depression. During an overdose, immediate medical intervention is needed to
prevent serious injury or death.
It is in those situations that the drug Naloxone can save lives! Naloxone, often referred to by its brand
name Narcan is what is known as an opioid antagonist. It can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid
overdose and quite literally bring the person back to life. Narcan has a stronger “affinity” for the opioid
receptors and can temporarily knock the opioid off the receptor, usually for about 30 to 90 minutes,
providing enough time to get the patient to a hospital. It is important for Narcan to be introduced as
soon as it is determined that the victim is overdosing, making it important to get Narcan into the hands
of first responders. That is where the FRIDAY program comes in.
The “Focus on Reducing Impaired Driving Among Youth” (FRIDAY) program is a Texas Department of
Transportation grant-funded program that provides free training to law enforcement and civilians in
underage impaired driving enforcement and alcohol and drug abuse prevention. We provide 1-, 2-, 4-,
and 8-hour training classes for law enforcement and civilian audiences statewide, along with “Drug
Impairment Training for Educational Professionals” DITEP for school nurses and administrators. Several
years ago, we partnered with a national organization that provides free Narcan to first responders, with
the idea being to get this life-saving medication out to Texas law enforcement. As part of our 8-hour
classes, we will provide training in the use of Narcan, along with a free two-dose kit of nasal Narcan for
each student who completes the training.
Those who carry and use Narcan are protected from liability under Texas law. Specifically, since 2015
Texas Health and Safety Code 483 Subchapter E allows for the distribution and use of Naloxone without
a prescription to counteract an opioid overdose. Having the drug readily available allows officers to aid
quickly and safely those suffering from an opioid overdose. The use of this drug can save lives including
those of fellow law enforcement officers.
If you are interested in hosting a FRIDAY Program class at your agency, please email or phone: Lead Instructor Mark Busbee (mark.busbee@texasfriday.org; (512) 659-8102), Staff Instructor Tamara
Spencer (
tamara.spencer@texasfriday.org; (281) 455-0775), or Program Assistant Kimberly Garza
kimberly.garza@texasfriday.org; (512) 279-7128).

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