Police Use Lifesaving Drug to Reverse Overdoses as Cases Rise

Published on July 23, 2020

ARLINGTON, Va. — Since the start of the year, nine individuals have recovered from opioid overdoses following the deployment of Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) by responding officers. This comes as the number of police investigated incidents involving opioids begins to rise, with fatal incidents now surpassing those reported in 2019. The opioid crisis remains a significant issue facing our community. The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information and resources to promote awareness, prevention and action to ultimately save lives.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Arlington

Starting in 2016, the Arlington community began seeing a significant increase in the number of opioid overdoses and deaths reported in the County. To help individuals, families, parents and friends understand the risks associated with opioids and resources available to help with this growing crisis, Arlington developed the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative (AARI). AARI is a collaborative program comprised of stakeholders from across the county including treatment providers, first responders, the justice system, schools, the hospital, and non-profit organizations. The initiative takes a multi-faceted approach to addressing the opioid epidemic by focusing on prevention and education, addiction treatment, response and recovery and criminal investigation and enforcement.

Narcan Training

In 2019, Arlington's Department of Human Services (DHS) partnered with the Police Department to begin training officers on how to respond to an opioid overdose using the reversal medication Narcan. DHS staff trains officers in the Rapid REVIVE program developed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The program reviews signs of opioid overdose, risk factors, and how to safely deploy Narcan through the nostrils using an atomizer attachment.

Related: Learn how to recognize and prevent an overdose with training provided by DHS and how to obtain free Narcan

Administration of Narcan

Police are often the first responders to arrive on scene of an emergency, and tools like Narcan allow our officers to administer lifesaving efforts prior to the arrival of medical personnel. Once Narcan is administered, officers ensure the scene is secure and monitor the individual's condition until the arrival of medics. This year, police officers have administered Narcan® during the following calls for service:


  • At approximately 12:43 p.m. on April 7, police responded to the 3200 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of an unconscious male inside a vehicle. Arriving officers administered Narcan, resulting in the male regaining consciousness. He was evaluated on scene by medics.

  • At approximately 11:38 p.m. on April 15, police responded to the 2000 block of 14th Street N. for the report of a possible overdose. Officers provided emergency medical care to the female and administered Narcan before medics arrived and assumed recovery efforts. She regained consciousnesses and was transported to an area hospital for medical treatment.

  • At approximately 3:09 a.m. on May 31, police responded to the 4900 block of Columbia Pike for the report of an unresponsive male asleep in a car. Upon arrival, officers located the individual in the driver's seat with his head slumped over suffering from an apparent overdose. Officers administered Narcan and placed the individual in the recovery position. The individual was revived with an additional dose of Narcan administered by medics and was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

  • At approximately 2:19 p.m. on June 26, police responded to the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street for a medical emergency. Arriving officers began performing CPR on the unresponsive male. Additional information provided by a witness indicated the individual was suffering from an apparent overdose. Officers administered Narcan and placed the individual in the recovery position. Arriving medics assumed care and transported the conscious and alert individual to an area hospital for treatment.

  • At approximately 2:29 a.m. on June 28, police responded to the 3200 block of 24th Street S. for the report of a cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, officers observed a witness performing CPR on an unconscious male. Officers assumed CPR compressions and administered Narcan which the individual positively reacted to. He was transported by medics to an area hospital for treatment.

  • At approximately 12:00 p.m. on June 30, police responded to the 2200 block of S. Eads Street for the report of an unconscious male in the driver's seat of a vehicle. Arriving officers observed evidence of narcotics use and administered Narcan to the individual. The individual regained consciousness and was transported by medics to an area hospital for treatment.

  • At approximately 7:38 p.m. on July 4, police responded to the 900 block of S. Buchanan Street for the report of a cardiac arrest. The investigation determined the individual was possibly overdosing from prescription medication. Officers administered Narcan which the individual did not react to. The individual regained consciousness after the deployment of a second dose. He was treated on scene by arriving medics.

  • At approximately 2:49 p.m. on July 5, police responded to the 3300 block of Lee Highway for the report of an unconscious male. The arriving officer observed evidence of possible narcotics use and administered Narcan to the individual with no response. The officer performed CPR on the individual until the arrival of medics. At the direction of medics, the officer administered a second dose of Narcan which the individual positively responded to. Medics transported him to an area hospital for treatment.

  • At approximately 4:15 p.m. on July 7, police were dispatched to the 3000 block of Columbia Pike for the report of an overdose. Upon arrival, officers observed two individuals performing CPR on an unresponsive male. The officer assumed CPR and administered a dose of Narcan. Medics arrived on scene, assumed care and the individual began breathing again. He was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

Read More: Narcan FAQs

Investigating Opioid-Related Incidents

Detectives from the police department's Organized Crime Section assist with every opioid-related overdose and collaborate with detectives from the Homicide/Robbery Unit on fatal incidents to ensure a complete and thorough investigation. Prioritization has been placed on investigating cases involving heroin and opioids and identifying those that distribute dangerous controlled substances within our community. Whenever possible, overdose victims are referred to the DHS' overdose outreach program for follow-up after an incident involving opioids. This referral system has led to an increase in the number of individuals seeking treatment for opioid use disorders through County programs.

Additional Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are numerous treatment resources available in Arlington and through the Department of Human Services. Assistance is also available through Operation Safe Station, a designated safe environment where individuals wishing to seek help with their drug use can self-report and receive services, without fear of prosecution and incarceration. Community members are also encouraged to prevent medication misuse or overdose by safely disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medication in one of Arlington's four permanent drug take-back boxes or by requesting a free deactivation bag.