By Amy Alkon
shared this story
from Advice Goddess Blog.
“Tough On Crime” Approach To Drugs Can Mean Death For An Opioid User
André Picard, at The Globe And Mail, argues for the distribution of Naxolone, which reverses overdoses:
As R. Gil Kerlikowske, former head of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, has said: “We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.” What is required is a series of measures, such as better education about the real benefits and risks of drugs like painkillers (for patients and medical practitioners alike), sounder prescribing practices, investment in non-pharmaceutical pain-control methods, better access to addiction treatment and harm-reduction measures.
What is also needed are pragmatic approaches to dealing with one of the frightening symptoms of the public-health crisis that is opioid abuse: overdoses.
…Naloxone is a drug that has been used for decades in emergency rooms to reverse opioids overdoses. It blocks opiate receptors and essentially reverses the effects of drugs such as heroin. Paramedics carry naloxone (also known as Narcan) and so do firefighters and police in many cities. In fact, there are ongoing squabbles about who should be allowed to administer the drug.
When turf wars are set aside, the simple answer to that question is whoever arrives first. That’s because, when stopping an overdose, a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
Administering naloxone is simple. It works much like an epinephrine auto-injector (best known by the brand name EpiPen). You have a vial loaded with the drug (or sometimes a syringe and liquid that need to be combined) and stick the needle into a muscle (thigh, shoulder or buttocks); if that doesn’t work, you inject a second dose. When responding to an overdose you should also perform CPR and make sure the person gets to hospital, because the drug can trigger withdrawal. It should be noted, however, that the drug works only for opioid overdoses; it won’t reverse an OD from cocaine or crack, drugs that bind to other receptors.
…Naloxone is so easy to use and effective that forward-thinking public-health officials have taken to handing out take-home naloxone kits to regular drug users, those who tend to use needle-exchange programs.
About 85 per cent of intravenous drug users who overdose do so in the presence of others, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. But, because their activities are often illegal, there is a reluctance to call 9-1-1 for help.
In New York City alone, more than 20,000 kits are distributed a year, …read more