Globe editorial: Expand overdose prevention program to save lives #narcan #heroin #masschusetts

Today’s lead staff editorial  in the Globe endorses the state’s pilot overdose prevention program:

FEW DEATHS from heroin overdose happen alone. A friend or relative is often standing by helplessly as a victim’s skin turns blue, their pulse slows, and breathing stops. In 2008, 594 people died from accidental overdoses of heroin and other opioid drugs in Massachusetts.

That’s why a promising state pilot program that gets a life-saving overdose-reversal drug called naloxone into the hands of friends and relatives of opioid addicts should be expanded to more communities. At the same time, more first responders should carry the drug, often known by the brand name Narcan, and state and federal authorities should relax the restrictions preventing wider public access…

The families of addicts often carry a heavy load, boxed in by stigma and shame, and shadowed by the constant fear that a loved one could die with the next stronger-than-expected bag of heroin. Naloxone isn’t a miracle drug, and it doesn’t eliminate addiction. But greater access to naloxone would empower families, provide hope – and save lives.

For more on the state’s Narcan program, see my 2010 audio report:

Overdose prevention: Still using, but still alive. Massachusetts and other states are trying a new approach to heroin addiction that aims at keeping addicts alive until they can get sober. The Health Show, WAMC, Albany, New York.  September 2010.

Or listen here at the Public Radio Exchange.

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