BANGOR – It’s a concerning trend in Maine: State estimates show there were likely 500 Mainers who died due to drugs last year. An app designed here in the Pine Tree State aims to prevent opioid overdoses from becoming deadly.
The OD-ME app, created by a team at the University of Maine in conjunction with the state Office of Behavioral Health and DHHS, teaches people what to do if they witness someone having an overdose.
“Most of the time, if people are suffering an overdose, it’s not they themselves who are going to be able to take themselves out of it, it will probably be someone they’re with,” said Alexander Rezk, who helped designed the app and works at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at UMaine.
Rezk said the app doesn’t replace formal training, but walks people through two ways to administer the overdose reversal drug Naloxone.
The app launched in March of 2020, and Rezk said the feedback has been generally positive.
“We’ve gotten a fair number of people who have reported that they have in fact used it to reverse overdoses, so that’s been encouraging,” Rezk said.
The free app can be found in the Apple App Store or on Google Play. To find it, simply type in OD-ME.
It includes both visual and audible cues to walk a person through the steps to administer the reversal drug.
“It’s something that you can just install to be prepared, and if people are interested in being a Good Samaritan or an active bystander in their community, it also can’t hurt to download,” said Rezk.
Rezk said you need to have an overdose reversing drug on hand, or know a place nearby where it’s available, to use the app to its full potential.
“You can have all the education, but if you don’t have the drug available that’s a different story,” said Rezk.
With drug overdose deaths on the rise in Maine, Rezk said every little bit helps.
“Being more comfortable with these things, being more comfortable discussing them, anything we do to shed light on the plight of substance use disorder and the toll it takes on our communities is a good thing,” Rezk said.
“You can save a life,” the narrator in the app tells users at the end of the training.
Naloxone is available through most health care providers. Harm reduction services are also available in the Bangor area by reaching out to Bangor Public Health, Health Equity Alliance, or the Bangor Area Recovery Network.
You can also find out where Naloxone is available by calling 211.