Orange County health officials say they will soon begin distributing kits that will help to prevent certain drug overdoses.
State legislators passed a law that allows the drug Naloxone to be prescribed to patients. Naloxone can reverse overdoses caused by painkillers like Oxycontin and hydrocodone.
Orange County health director Colleen Bridger says making the kits available can help reduce what was a high number of deaths in the state since 1999 from abuse of these powerful pain medications.
"There are 1,100 people in North Carolina who died from unintentional poisoning. Now, how many of them could have been prevented by Naloxone, we're not sure," Bridger says.
"What we do know is that (in) 80 percent of that 1,100 people, the drug that was used was an opiate drug."
Bridger says the law allows people close to those hooked on the drugs to be trained on how to use Naloxone. It also provides a benefit for those helpers.
"It provides some protection for people who administer Naloxone and who also call 911 to get assistance for people who they think have overdosed because people were afraid to call in authorities for help because they themselves had been using drugs or there was drug paraphernalia in the house and they didn't want to be charged with possession," she says.
Naloxone kits will be available starting in December.