BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Overdoses across the commonwealth are on the rise. That’s according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But there’s a local group stepping up efforts to reverse the deadly trend.

15 Pennsylvanians die from an overdose each day. Experts say the pandemic is contributing to an unprecedented drug overdose epidemic in our country. That’s why carrying Naloxone is one simple step everyone can take toward saving lives in our communities.

Opioid overdose is reversible. Save a life. Carry Naloxone. That’s the powerful message from the United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties.

“One in three people know someone addicted, so if we can get this out in the community, then people can come and hopefully save lives,” Stigma reduction and education coordinator Olivia Oden said.

To combat the drug overdose epidemic, staff members distributed free Naloxone kits and resources Wednesday in Bloomsburg.

Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. It’s safe, easy to administer, and has no side effects. The prescription nasal spray is commonly known by its’ brand name “Narcan.”

“First responders are carrying it, police departments are carrying it, other organizations and professionals are carrying it. It’s a way to help when you feel helpless,” outreach facilitator Loreen Comstock said.

Leading the efforts is the United in Recovery division of the United Way. The program works to reduce drug overdoses and increase the number of residents in recovery.

“If you stop using drugs that’s not the end of the road. This is a constant battle because there are triggers and other things that come up across a person’s life that can set them back,” Comstock said.

“I believe stigma is the number one barrier other than financial and transportation that prevents folks with active addiction from seeking care, whether it’s inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment or just counseling,” Oden said.

By supporting prevention, intervention and community building, the fight against substance use disorder continues.

“Hopefully with education and information about Narcan and other things, we can really make an impact,” Comstock said.

The United Way has distributed more than 500 boxes of Naloxone over the last six months. For information on how you can access it, visit health.pa.gov.