A new program has provided the necessary funds for New York Police officers to be equipped with a heroin antidote known as Naloxone. Recent increases in heroin addiction and overdose in the area have made it necessary for the NYPD to be specially trained and equipped for this crisis. The rise in heroin addiction has impacted hospitals, courts and drug enforcement in New York with the DEA seizing 67 percent more of the drug in the past five years.
Police officers are hoping that access to Naloxone will save hundreds of lives that could be lost to heroin overdose. Heroin bought off the street and prescription opoids have become an epidemic drug problem in New York that has prompted the police department to take action.
How Naloxene Works to Stop Overdose
The NYPD is the largest police department in the country and the new program will equip as many as 20,000 officers with Naloxone to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. The program is known as the Community Overdose Prevention Program and provides more than a million dollars to equip and train officers to use the heroin antidote on the job. Naloxone is highly effective at preventing death as a result of heroin overdose and it will now be available in every corner of the city.
The antidote kit comes in a zip bag or pouch containing two pre-filled syringes of naloxone, two atomizers for nasal administration, sterile gloves and a booklet on the use of the drug. Every officer provided with the kit will be shown how to administer the drug to people experiencing a heroin overdose.
The emergency treatment works through an auto-injector that is injected into the muscle. The drug works by stopping heroin or other opoids from slowing down a person's breathing to the point where it eventually stops.
The new auto-injector is much more user friendly and does not require as much training. Currently, officers are equipped with a nasal spray version which is slightly different than the new treatment that will be provided following the FDA's recent approval. Training for officers to begin using Naloxene takes only about 45 minutes and the new version of the antidote has already proven effective in a pilot project on Staten Island.
New York City is not the first U.S city to require officers to carry Naloxene. The police department of Quincy, Massachusetts already equips officers with the antidote and has successfully reversed 211 overdoses with a success rate of over 95%. In New York's Suffolk County, as many as 563 lives were saved just last year.
Saving Lives and Reducing High Overdose Numbers
The huge increase in heroin addiction and overdose deaths related to the drug has also prompted the creation of programs to monitor prescription medication in the area. Programs like I-STOP are designed to monitor and prevent individuals from going doctor to doctor so that they can accumulate multiple prescriptions. Opoid medications are often a gateway drug to the use of street heroin. Many addicts get their start using prescription drugs but because medications like Oxycodone have become more difficult to obtain, heroin is now cheaper and easier to buy.
As the demand for heroin continues to increase in New York, the dangers of overdose continue to grow as a persistent problem throughout the city. The number of heroin overdoses in New York City increased by 84% between 2010 and 2012.
To prevent these numbers from continuing to grow, police officers will need to use their new equipment and training to save as many lives as possible while in the line of duty. The overdose prevention program will make it possible for NYPD to be an integral part of the fight against heroin addiction and overdose.