The Douglas County sheriff’s deputies who found a 19-year-old suffering from an oxycodone overdose most likely saved the Omaha man’s life, their supervisor said Wednesday.

Deputies called to a home near 118th and Ida Streets early Tuesday found the man unconscious, barely breathing and turning blue in the face, said Chief Deputy Tom Wheeler of the Sheriff’s Office.

“Fearing a drug overdose, deputies administered Narcan,” Wheeler said, referring to the brand name of naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids. “The man regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital by rescue squad.”

Naloxone reverses the symptoms of an opioid overdose and helps a person breathe — often preventing death.

The man later told deputies that he overdosed while snorting oxycodone, a strong narcotic pain reliever. Wheeler said officers are noticing that oxycodone and fentanyl, another strong pain reliever, are being abused more often. “I think we’re just seeing the tip of the problem now,” he said.

The Tuesday morning incident, Wheeler said, was the first time Douglas County deputies have used Narcan.

Last fall, Wheeler said, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning ordered Narcan kits for all patrol deputies and K9 units. Deputies at the courthouse, City-County Building and Sheriff’s Office also have access to the kits.

“It’s administered quickly and easily, straight through the nostril like a sinus spray,” he said. “It really does have miraculous effects.”

The Omaha Police Department, Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol are among other area law enforcement agencies that provide Narcan kits to their officers.

Last September in Kimball, two Nebraska State Patrol troopers used Narcan on a man and a woman who had overdosed at a motel, patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said. Both survived.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.

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