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Naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of opioids including heroin and oxycodone, has stopped 2,000 overdoses in Massachusetts in the last six years, state officials announced.

Naloxone, also called Narcan, is a nasal spray. Naloxone kits are distributed in 15 communities in Massachusetts for free to people who use opioids, and to their family and friends, the Associated Press reports. The Narcan program also offers education and referrals for addiction treatment.

Ambulance crews and emergency rooms have routinely used Narcan for decades. During the past few years, public health officials in a growing number of communities around the country have begun distributing it to people addicted to opioids, and to their loved ones. Some police and firefighters have also received the kits.

In February 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that naloxone has successfully reversed more than 10,000 opioid overdoses since 1996.



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