MONTPELIER (AP) - The Vermont Health Department is launching a program to distribute an antidote for opium-based drug overdoses directly to addicts.

Within the next few weeks, the drug Narcan will arrive at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction and at the Howard Center in Burlington. The drug will be distributed directly to addicts, their friends and family.

The project is aimed at curbing drug abuse and enhancing treatment resources.

According to reports, families and friends will be able to administer the drug directly to someone in need rather than wait for paramedics to arrive, a process that can take time in much of rural Vermont.

Dr. Thomas Ziobrowski from Kingdom Internal Medicine in St. Johnsbury says he expects Narcan will save lives.