The York Dispatch

York County is on track to end 2015 with almost as many heroin deaths as it saw last year, when a record 62 people died of overdoses.

In this file photo, Vickie Glatfelter holds her cellphone, which has a picture of her son Bob taken after he took a fatal dose of fentanyl. "When the cops gave me back (his) phone and I flipped it open, that picture was the first thing I saw," she said. She tells her story in a video at yorkdispatch.com. (Randy Flaum - The York Dispatch)

There have been 47 confirmed heroin-related deaths this year, and seven more likely will be added to that total pending toxicology results, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

That toll is awful enough, but Coroner Pam Gay estimates about 50 more people would have died of heroin or opiate overdoses had they not been resuscitated by police using the anti-overdose drug naloxone.

This drug is quite literally a life-safer, although relaxed state laws only made it widely available to York County police officers in April.

Prompted by a heroin epidemic that shows no signs of abating, Pennsylvania officials have since made it even easier to get naloxone, also known by the brand names Narcan and EVZIO. The drug can be purchased without prescription by anyone who requests it.

The key now is to get naloxone where it's needed most — in the hands of people who live with or are likely to come into contact with heroin users.

That's where the York chapter of Not One More, an organization that aims to help those addicted to heroin and raise awareness about the drug, comes in.

The group received a donation of 200 kits of EVZIO, and it plans to distribute 100 doses to local recovery houses and the other 100 to the general public during a Dec. 12 event at the York Learning Center, 300 E. Seventh Ave., North York.

It makes perfect sense that recovery houses keep this drug on hand. It's not uncommon for a recovering addict to slip — and that one slip can be deadly if they take the same amount of heroin they used before quitting.

That's what happened to Vickie Glatfelter's son Robert, who died in April 2014 from an overdose while he was supposed to be in a recovery home.

Surprisingly, however, not all recovery homes have a supply of naloxone.

Glatfelter, co-founder of the local Not One More chapter, intends to change that with the distribution of EVZIO kits.

"The goal is to get them in every (recovery) house," she said.

Recovery houses, or sober-living houses, are not the same as rehab facilities and are not subject to any state or federal regulations.

It seems to us they should be, and that part of that government oversight should include mandating recovery houses maintain a supply of naloxone.

In the meantime, we hope all of our local houses take the Not One More group up on its offer.