NEW CANAAN — It can happen in countless ways: when someone is using alone, when they’re going through a relapse, when a user has been recently released from prison or when they’re taking drugs with alcohol. An opioid overdose can strike at various times, and local politicians and advocates are taking steps to ensure citizens can fight back.

A crowd of about 20 concerned citizens gathered in New Canaan Town Hall Tuesday evening to learn how to combat opioid overdoses, getting training in administering naloxone, a drug commonly sold under the brand name Narcan that reverses the effects of an overdose.

State Reps. Fred Wilms, R-142, and Tom O’Dea, R-125, were on hand to discuss what the state General Assembly is doing to combat the heroin crisis, including lowering the length of painkiller prescriptions from a maximum of 30 days to one week.

“The idea behind that is to, over time, shrink the supply,” Wilms said.

Wilms said the government is now also requiring all first responders carry anti-overdose drugs.

“I hate to call it a miracle drug, but for the opioid epidemic, it’s a miracle because it saves so many lives,” O’Dea said.

After showing a video demonstrating the signs of an overdose and how to respond, Ellen Brezovsky, of Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, and Ingrid Gillespie, of Communities 4 Action — part of Greenwich United Way — further discussed the intricacies of opioid addiction and overdoses, and talked attendees through how to use naloxone. The overdose reversal drug can be administered via intramuscular injection, an auto injector or through a nasal spray. Some forms of naloxone are covered by Connecticut Medicare and Medicaid and many forms are available in pharmacies.

“One of the biggest challenges around addiction is stigma,” Gillespie said. “People think it’s ‘Just say no,’ but it’s not a choice.”

“We can’t emphasize how grateful we are you’re here tonight,” she said. “Now you’ll be an ambassador.”

Gillespie said Connecticut is one of 42 states with a naloxone distribution program, and state law protects people from legal action if administering the overdose reversal drug goes wrong or if the person calls 911 for help. Attendees on Tuesday got a Narcan kit, as well as a disposable bag with the appropriate chemicals inside it that will safely deactivate prescription medications.

The event drew potential ambassadors from New Canaan and beyond. Vicki Sara Blumberg, a physician at Bridgeport Correctional Facility, who also works with opioid addiction in Ridgefield, said she went to learn how to use overdose reversal drugs and spread the knowledge in her workplace.

“I have (naloxone) in my office in a vial, but I’d never been trained for nasal naloxone,” she said. “So now I can treat patients.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata