Macomb sheriff uses $1,000 donation to buy naloxone

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office will be using a $1,000 donation from Sterling Heights Dodge to save lives with opioid antagonist naloxone, the sheriff’s office announced Thursday.

In 2015, the first year when law enforcement in Michigan was legally permitted to use naloxone to save people in the midst of opioid overdoses, sheriff’s deputies in Macomb saved the lives of 14 people who might’ve died otherwise. They started carrying the kits that May.

Just over halfway through 2016, sheriff’s deputies in Macomb have already used the drug 18 times.

Naloxone reverses the opioid overdose process by attaching itself to the same brain receptors opioids cling to, blocking their effect for 30 to 90 minutes. Because an overdose can resume after naloxone wears off, experts recommend that people who’ve been administered naloxone not be left alone.

Naloxone is one tool police departments have turned to in addressing Michigan’s opioid crisis. Opioid overdoses killed 1,001 people in Michigan in 2014, the last year for which numbers are available. That’s more than the number of people who died in car crashes in Michigan in 2014, which was 876.

While some departments have been slow to embrace naloxone, two of Michigan’s biggest police agencies, Detroit Police Department and Michigan State Police, have begun carrying it in recent months. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and its counterpart in Oakland County were relatively early adapters.

Each naloxone kit costs $45, the sheriff’s office said, so the $1,000 will buy about 22 kits. The funds were delivered Wednesday by Tony Viviano, owner of the car dealership. The money came from a group, Independent We Stand, a Virginia-based buy-local movement of business owners. Independent We Stand randomly chose Viviano’s name, and he chose to donate the money.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham made the decision to use the funds to buy naloxone kits.