By Alyssa Schnugg

Photos by Bruce Newman

Emily Presley of Communicate conducts a training session on the use of Narcan at the Sardis Police Department in Sardis, Miss. on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (©Bruce Newman)

As the opioid crisis continues to claim thousands of lives annually, Communicare is teaching people how to use another drug to help save lives.

Narcan, or the generic name naloxone, is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is the standard treatment for opioid overdose.

In 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray for over-the-counter, nonprescription, use. “We want to ensure that everyone has access to this life-saving drug paired with knowledge on not only how to use it, but also how to avoid an overdose altogether,” said Melody Madaris, executive director of Communicare. “It is a terrifying time with fentanyl being found in most drugs sold on the street. With someone who is opioid naive, in other words, someone who doesn’t take a lot of opioids, it could kill them
quickly, with them never knowing they ingested an opioid. Our ultimate goal is to save lives. As long as there is breath in their body, there is hope.”

Communicare’s Emily Presley provides training on the correct way to administer Narcan to law enforcement, fraternities, community groups, businesses and anyone who wants to learn. Presley understands substance abuse and the dangers it can cause. A former nurse, Presley was also a peer support specialist at Communicare when she was given the opportunity to train people on how to use Narcan. “Training people how to literally save lives or save people from an opioid overdose has been really amazing for me,” she said.

When someone overdoses on an opioid, like fentanyl, hydrocodone or even heroin, after Narcan is administered, the patient can go from being unconscious to sitting up and talking in 2 to 5 minutes. They are then transported to the hospital for continued care. Presley said the reason the Narcan training is so vital is due to the influx of fentanyl. “Fentanyl is like 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and heroin,” she said. “It’s become so popular because it’s so cheap. And so the cartels are just making it with everything, and they’re counterfeiting pills. It’s our young people who are getting most affected by the influx of fentanyl in today’s society.” Presley said she has provided the training to student groups on the University of Mississippi campus so that they can know how to use Narcan if they are ever in a situation where someone near them has overdosed. She said the training also offers awareness and provides a time for discussions about the dangers of fentanyl and other available drugs.

When she does the Narcan training, Presley can give everyone at the training two doses of Narcan to keep. “Each dose is four milligrams, and it’s a nasal spray,” she said. “If one dose doesn’t wake them up, then you can give them another dose. The good thing about Narcan is that you cannot overdose on it. You can’t give someone too much.” Communicare received a grant that allows Presley to travel and provide the training and two doses of Narcan. “I can go just about all over north Mississippi – Lee, Yalobusha, Panola, Desoto and Lafayette County,” she said. “Mainly, I’ve been doing the training with law enforcement, but I will go to any group that wants this training.”“Anybody in the community that’s interested, our trainings are free of charge. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete the training,” Presley said.

For more information about the Narcan training or to sign up for training, call Presley at Communicare at 662-234-7521, ext. 3051 or email