Applause for naloxone program

Published 9:27 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Four of those deaths, according to Suffolk Police Department statistics, were in Suffolk.

The majority of drug overdose deaths in the United States involve an opioid, whether a prescription opioid or heroin. Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids have quadrupled.

Every day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose.

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We can all agree these untimely, senseless deaths are robbing their victims, mostly young people, of their futures and leaving behind shattered families and communities.

So what can be done to stem the tide?

There are a number of steps that can be taken, according to the CDC.

Health care providers can improve the way opioids are prescribed for those suffering from chronic pain, in an effort to reduce the number of people who ultimately abuse the drugs.

Abuse can be prevented through a number of avenues, ranging from prescription drug monitoring programs to doctors discussing with their patients the risks and treatment options before the patient takes opioids.

Once abuse has taken hold of someone, there are still options to prevent death. Many treatment options are available, and using some or all of them can be very effective in kicking the opioid addiction.

But if all of those plans fail, and a person still overdoses on opioids, there is one last thing that can save their life. And that is getting a dose of naloxone in time.

Naloxone is a medication that, if given in time, immediately reverses the effects of an opioid overdose on the body. It is available in nasal spray or injection form. It has no other effect on the body, so if the assumption that a person is suffering from an opioid overdose is incorrect, it will do no harm if administered under that incorrect assumption.

But the key is getting it to an overdose victim in time. That’s where a new program by the Suffolk Police Department comes in.

The department received a $5,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation to purchase 60 two-dose packs of the naloxone nasal spray. Officers will keep the naloxone with them and be able to administer it quickly if they arrive on the scene of an overdose before the ambulance does.

Our applause goes to the Suffolk Police Department and the Obici Healthcare Foundation for implementing this vital program. We hope it will never be needed, but now it is available if so.