In one town in Massachusetts police officers have been using an antidote to help combat opioid overdoses which has came back with results showing a high rate of success. The antidote is known as naloxone hydrochloride or narcan and helps reverse overdose from painkillers, heroin and other opioids by blocking the ability of the narcotic’s to attach onto the brain cells. Many critics are calling for all law enforcement officers across the nation to be required to carry the antidote. Narcan is an inexpensive lifesaving drug with the potential to save many people from overdosing on opiates such as heroin.
Nearly 15,000 people die every year from overdosing on opioids and now backlash is arising due to the fact that there is a remedy available that could greatly reduce that number. The primary reason behind overdose fatalities is misuse of prescription opioids. With efforts to cut supply of prescription opioids failing researchers and public health officials may have to seek new ways to prevent deaths by overdose. New York City recently announced a policy that will restrict use of prescription painkillers to patients but critics are arguing that this is not the best method for reducing recreational use and illegal distribution of these narcotics.
A pilot program in a town located in Massachusetts known as Quincy now requires all police officers to carry the antidote Narcan which is now served in the form of a nasal spray. Quincy police officers have reversed overdoses 170 times out of 179 tries since they began using Narcan, a 95% success rate. The individuals Narcan did not work on had consumed additional substances and since Narcan is only effective with opioids so it could not reverse the other drugs. Initially the Quincy law enforcement did not want to be involved with the program.
However, although the police resisted using the antidote, Patrick Glynn a narcotics detective says they have changed their philosophy and that they have came to the realization that they cannot arrest their way out of a drug overdose epidemic. In Massachusetts over 500 people die every year from accidental opioid overdoses with a third of those overdoses being caused by painkillers according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Health. Quincy’s pilot program has proved that lives can be saved and Quincy police hope its high success rate will encourage other police departments around the country to start carrying it.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.