September 22, 2016
Barbara Sobko, left, and Karen Buckner September 22, 2016 | by Amy Bickers

Save One Life, a UAB Crowdfunding project designed to put naloxone – an injectable medication that can reverse opiod overdose – in the hands of friends and family of opiod abusers has helped to save nine lines in the last 10 months.

“We identified and trained non-medical friends and family of those at risk to recognize signs of overdose and administer this life-saving drug,” said Karen Cropsey, Psy.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Psychiatry. “We raised $11,500 through UAB Crowdfunding, which allowed us to reach our original goal of purchasing 200 kits, and will allow us to expand the program to 350 kits.”

UAB Crowdfunding was launched in 2014 to provide a platform for faculty, staff and students seeking financial support for special projects. Teams launch project pages explaining their goals. Supporters can give through the project page, and 100 percent of the gift will go directly to the project.

The Save One Life crowdfunding campaign was supported by 114 donors. A donation of $44 purchased one kit.

Dr. Cropsey says eight of the nine reversals were third-party situations, where the trained responders stopped an overdose in someone other than the family member or friend for whom they originally received the prescription for naloxone.

“That’s nine lives saved, and nine people who hopefully can go on to receive medical treatment for their substance abuse and addiction issues,” Dr. Cropsey said. “It’s not every day that we do a study that directly saves someone’s life. We do studies on smoking that we hope will someday prevent or delay cancer or lung disease, but here we have an intervention that can be truly lifesaving.”

Dr. Cropsey says national statistics indicate that implementing naloxone distribution programs led to a 43 percent drop in opioid overdose deaths. In the United States, 63 people die each day from opioid overdose, which includes heroin and prescription pain medications such as OxyContin, Lortab and Percocet. The Southeast is experiencing the greatest increase in opioid use, and Alabama has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions. Birmingham and the surrounding counties reported 12 heroin deaths in 2010. By 2014, this number had increased to 137.

“We’re thrilled that we were able to raise enough money to purchase additional naloxone kits through the crowdfunding project,” Dr. Cropsey said. “More money means more kits and more lives saved. The key now is to understand how best to conduct recruitment and training. We need to have the right people trained so that the kits are in the hands of appropriate people in the community.”

To support Save One Life: http://uab.edu/saveonelife. For information on crowdfunding: Randy Kinder; 205.975.6629; rkinder@uab.edu.