Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said Wednesday that five “opiate overdoses” last weekend in Portland could have turned out much worse if not for the availability of Narcan, which was used to revive all of the victims.

None of the people died, something that Portland police considered “a big success,” Malloch said.

Narcan, which is the brand name for Naloxone, can reverse the effects of an overdose.

“The increased availability of Narcan is really paying off,” Malloch told reporters at a press conference at the city police station.

Malloch praised the news media for raising public awareness of state’s drug crisis. The Portland Press Herald recently published a 10-part series, “Lost, Heroin’s Killer Grip on Maine’s People,” which explores many facets of Maine’s heroin epidemic and how it is affecting families.

Initial police reports indicated that eight people had overdosed last weekend, but Malloch corrected that figure, saying that two incidents, which he described as related to behavioral health issues, involved intentional ingestion of over-the-counter medicine.

Another incident was determined to be a medical problem, not an overdose.

Portland police said the first overdose was reported at 11:55 a.m. Sunday. The reports continued throughout the evening before ending Monday morning.

One overdose involved an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail, while another victim was at the Oxford Street Shelter, Malloch said.

“Five overdoses in such a short period is a little unusual, but sadly it is not unexpected,” Malloch said.

The overdoses, which do not appear to be related, occured at 21 Chestnut St., 620 Congress St., 861 Congress St., at the shelter and at the jail. Two police officers administered the Narcan, as did a county jail worker and two friends of victims.

Portland police officers started carrying Narcan in September.

“We are fortunate that none were fatal,” Malloch said. “The increased availability of Narcan and continued community outreach are certainly factors preventing deaths. Social workers, law enforcement, friends and family members of users have increased availability to Narcan and it is paying off.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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