BEND, Ore. - In 2016, more than 64,000 people died of drug overdoses across the United States.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 50,000 of those deaths were from opioid or heroin overdoses.
That's partly why, over the past 18 months, both the Bend and Redmond Police Department have started carrying the drug Narcan.
Narcan is able to reverse an opioid or heroin overdose by attaching to the same parts of the brain that receive the drugs, and blocking those receptors for 30 to 90 minutes. Using it can wake a person up and restore breathing, Bend Fire Department EMS Training Captain Petar Hossick said Thursday.
"Normally, they respond relatively quickly. And sometimes they respond, and the first thing they start doing is throwing up. And usually they are pretty unhappy, because you've taken their high away from them." Hossick said.
In 2016, among Oregon police departments, Bend was the second-largest user of Narcan.
Since June 2016, the Bend Police Department has used Narcan 17 times and saved 15 lives, police Sgt. Scott Vincent said.
"When you get (in) opiate addiction to a point where you're overdosing and it's life-threatening, that's a disease to a point that that person actually needs real help and intervention," Vincent said. "If we can give that person another opportunity, or if we can give that family another chance to help him or her ... function in society, that's what we're here for."
In 2016, the Redmond Police Department had 17 cases in which Narcan was needed but was not yet being carried by officers.
In May 2017, the department started carrying Narcan. Since then, it's only been used once.
Serenity Lane counselor Joey Stearns said heroin addiction can start with opioids or with friends.
"Normally, somebody will shoot them up for the first time, and they experience that for the first time, with that rush, and it's instantaneous addiction," Stearns said. "At that point, and they're always trying to get that same high from the very first time, and they don't get that high -- and they just chase it, chase it, chase it -- and what happens is they overdose."
Sometimes, someone will overdose and receive Narcan multiple times. But officials, including Bend police Lt. Clint Burleigh, say the goal is always the same.
"The goal of many police departments is to serve communities and and protect them from any kind of harm, and that's what we're doing," he said. "We're protecting our community, and we're serving them --- we're saving lives,"
Narcan programs are funded by grants, and in November, the Bend Police Department received a $3,000 grant from St. Charles Bend.