Opioid overdose has been a common occurrence in all social classes and all over the United States. A revision to Washington State’s Good Samaritan Law that allows people to buy Naloxone, a medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose, without a prescription, might signal a decline in this epidemic.
Naloxone is a drug well-known for preventing deaths from overdosing, but it wasn’t readily available to anyone in need. The Tacoma Fire Department used the medication for years, as well as people who were able to get a doctor’s prescription for it. This type of regulation was an obstacle to saving lives for ,as it happens, most people don’t plan on overdosing on opioids.
Fortunately enough, the revision to the Good Samaritan Law in 2015, means that pharmacies are now allowed to sell Naloxone to anyone that can help other people in treating opioid overdose. Though, a pharmacy’s freedom to sell the medicine is still limited by the need to enter in a collaborative agreement with a physician.
Opioids come in many forms, such as commonly prescribed drugs by doctors: OxyContin, morphine, and Vicodin for pain treatment but often people can become addicted to them and many resort to heroin which is cheaper and easier to get than standard painkiller drugs. The opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate based on social standing, as it can affect anyone, even famous artists such as Prince, who recently passed away from an overdose.
More measures to increase access to medication for opioid overdose are being implemented such as a decision in Orange County to allow deputies to carry Narcan, a drug that can prevent deaths from an overdose as well. Also, a Pennsylvania judge plans to lower opioid abuse by ordering convicted drug dealer to pay a fine which will be used by law enforcement and medical services to save people’s lives from an overdose. The judge also hopes that this measure will change the perspective of drug dealers over the harm they are doing.
Increased availability of medications that save people from overdoses can be the beginning for a reform of how the justice system handles drug users and dealers. Many advocates have asked for an end of the Nixon’s war on drugs policies which have done more harm than good, especially to low-income communities and minorities. Others are even asking for a complete overhaul of drug laws, similar to Portugal’s policies, that focus on treatment and prevention rather than punishment.
Do you know anyone who suffered an opioid overdose? What do you think about America’s drug laws?
Image source: Medscape