Heroin Overdose: There Might Be Help On The Horizon
Heroin is a growing epidemic level problem in the US. Heroin provides a cheaper and easier to obtain alternative for someone who is addicted to prescription painkillers. In Kentucky these opioid drugs have been causing a major problem for more than a decade. In 2014 alone there were over a thousand deaths as a result of an overdose of prescription drugs and heroin.
These deaths are tragic and some of them may have been able to be avoided. One way that the state is trying to deal with this devastating problem is to expand the availability of a life-saving anti-drug Naloxone.
Though some feel that the drug takes away one of the primary reasons that people enter treatment, a fear of dying, the state has decided to go forward with plans to make this something that is available to those who are connected with individuals who are at risk for overdosing.
Naloxone is a medication that is designed to counteract the dangerous and life-threating problems that happen during an overdose. The drug is generally carried by medical professionals like EMT’s and even by police officers who are often the first on the scene of an overdose.
One of the primary symptoms of an overdose on opioids like heroin is that the person’s breathing becomes extremely shallow and slow and eventually stops all together. Naloxone can when administered properly and in time prevent this from happening. It will wake the person up and improve their breathing.
It is not and should not be considered an alternative for seeking immediate medical attention. Even if you have administered a dose of this medication you should call 911 and get medical attention for the person overdosing immediately.
New legislation in the state of Kentucky is also aimed to help lower the level of overdose deaths in the state. Not only are more people allowed access to Naloxone but addicts who receive life-saving measures are not being charged criminally after their revival.
The state is also making it so that Naloxone is something that can be purchased directly from a pharmacy without a traditional prescription.
Many pharmacist in the state have undergone training to make it so that they can provide this drug, however many have yet to reach an agreement with a local doctor to provide the medication without a prescription.
Nationally the problem of heroin use is being noticed as well. The addiction problem is so widespread that even the White House has had to sit up and take notice.
The White House is aiming to shift the mentality in the nation from punishing those who are fighting with this addiction to helping them seek treatment.
According to a report from the centers for disease control and prevention in the past ten years the death rate from heroin overdose has quadrupled a startling and troubling number.
The program will also aim to better train emergency medical professionals who are often the first responders at the scene of an overdose on how to use and when to use life-saving procedures such as the Naloxone injection.
The White House is aiming to make this program less about law enforcement and more about saving lives and protecting the health of the nation.
This comes in conjunction with the Obama administrations proposed 133 million dollar program to help counter the problem of prescription painkillers being overprescribed.
Some of what the new program aims to do is provide more transparency in the drug trafficking pattern nationwide. By expanding the information available to law enforcement it is more likely that they will be able to discover where some of the worst drugs are coming from.
One new trend that is likely leading to an increase in overdose deaths is dealers cutting the heroin they sell with the extremely powerful painkiller Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is an opiate painkiller that is legal, however, it is one of the most powerful painkillers available and generally only used to treat people who have been through an extensive surgical procedure and only used for short periods of time.
Drug dealers are getting more creative, and have started mixing Fentanyl with heroin. They do this for a couple of reasons, for one it can cut their costs, as they are now able to lab create Fentanyl. Secondly it provides a more euphoric and more powerful high.
This drug is even more dangerous than many of the prescription painkillers being abused today and when it is mixed with heroin it is impossible to tell how much the user is consuming, which can quickly lead to overdose.
The most important thing that is happing in this shift is the mentality. People are beginning to sit up and take notice and realize that this epidemic level addiction going on in our country needs to be treated like a the health problem that it is.
Heroin and opioid addiction is difficult to overcome but when it is treated like an illness, and addicts have access to the right level of treatment and recovery options, it can be changed.