HONOLULU (KHON2) — Opioids have killed thousands of people in Hawaii in the last two decades according to David Shaku, behavioral health director of the Hawaii Health Harm and Reduction Center. But it doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to a lifesaving tool, that’s available to the public for free.

It’s called Narcan. It’s a nasal spray containing a medication called naloxone.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

Shaku said it’s saving lives.

“It completely brings somebody out of an opioid overdose,” Shaku explained. “This is a very simple and effective way that you can protect your love ones not just from substance abuse disorder but from the tragedy of accidental overdose.”

The alarming uptick in fentanyl is threatening to make things worse.

“This is a very serious epidemic and it’s entirely preventable,” Shaku said.

He’s hoping more education and access to Narcan will prevent that from happening.

So the HHHRC is teaming up with HPD to get the word out about the life-saving medication.

HPD officer Johnathon Rakieten said they want to bring awareness to it and teach people how to use it.

Most hospitals and first responders have it, including police.

“HPD has rolled out Narcan to its officers and we do have training on it,” Rakieten explained.

KHON: “Have you ever had to administer it?”

“Yes, I have,” Rakieten said.

According to Shaku some pharmacies carry it, but he said you can get it on their website for free–they’ll mail it to you anywhere in the state.

And he said it’s safe.

“It’s only going to work on somebody that’s using opioids,” Shaku said. “It’s not harmful to anybody that’s not using opioids, it’s not going to do anything else, there’s no other psychoactive property.”

It’s also easy to use. Just take the white dispenser out of the container. Insert it into the person’s nostril and push the red button all the way in.

“This is just as simple as rescue breathing or an AED defibrillator this is something that can prevent somebody from dying,” Shaku said.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

Click here to find out how you can get Narcan for free.