Attorney General Eric Holder spoke recently about the devastating issue the United States is facing with heroin addiction and deadly overdoses. He urges law enforcement officials and first responders to carry the anti-overdose drug Naloxone commonly known by the brand name Narcan. When administered, Narcan has the ability to reverse and opiate overdose and save lives. The drug has saved thousands of lives and is gaining more popularity by law enforcement agencies around the United States.
Holder went on to note that heroin overdoses have risen 45 percent from 2006 to 2010. Some states are feeling the epidemic harder than others. Vermont is one of the hardest hit states with twice as many residents suffering deadly overdoses in 2013 compared to 2012. The number of people seeking treatment in for opiate addiction has also risen 770 percent since 2000!
“When confronting the problem of substance abuse, it makes sense to focus attention on the most dangerous types of drugs. And right now, few substances are more lethal than prescription opiates and heroin,” said Holder. “It’s clear that opiate addiction is an urgent — and growing — public health crisis. And that’s why Justice Department officials, including the DEA, and other key federal, state, and local leaders, are fighting back aggressively.”
Many health advocates are pushing for all states to pass laws for first responders to carry the drug Narcan. Narcan has been used in hospital emergency rooms for decades but is now wanted on the front lines. It only makes sense to have the drug readily available at the earliest possible time to reverse these opiate overdoses. White House officials are pushing for states to follow suit and pass their own Naloxone laws plus Good Samaritan laws to go along with it. Good Samaritan laws ensure criminal protection for those individuals who report an overdose in progress. Many addicts die because the people they are using with are afraid of being prosecuted and do not call 911. The addition of Good Samaritan laws and the use of Naloxone by first responders should be a no brainer for all states to follow.
I have personally debated with people who are opposed of the use of Narcan by first responders or family members who have a known at-risk addict living with them. Their argument is that if this drug is available to reverse overdoses, then the addicts will use more. They will have the comfort of knowing this drug will bring them back if they happen to overdose. This idea is absolutely absurd to me. It seems that if you have never been affected by someone with an opiate addiction, you are more likely to oppose it. I just can not understand why we wouldn't try to save someone's life if we have the medication to do so. We pump stomachs of those who consume too much alcohol, should we stop doing that too? Hopefully laws will be passed so that Narcan can be available to everyone in need.