Next to contracting blood borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, the risk of overdose is one of the most significant issues facing active injection drug users. Heroin addicts are at highest risk; according to The Fix, about 15,000 people die every year due to opiate overdoses. The quizzical aspect of this phenomenon is the fact that there exists an inexpensive and extremely effective method of treatment that can pull patients back from an overdose almost instantly, a medication called naloxone. When used in a timely manner, the drug saves lives. So why isn’t it more widely available?
How Naloxone Works
Naloxone is a drug that is injected when an opiate overdose strikes and the victim stops breathing. The drug immediately goes to the opiate receptors in the brain and blocks the heroin or other opiate drug from binding to those receptors, which in turn immediately stops their effects and the overdose. The result is that the patient almost immediately “wakes up” from the overdose, and usually experiences instant withdrawal symptoms if they are addicted to the drug. The drug is very effective and a first course of action used by emergency medical technicians when it is clear that the patient is struggling through an opiate overdose.
The Politics of Naloxone
If you thought that needle exchange programs that work to fight the transmission of HIV among the drug-using population was an explosive political issue, double that and you might be close to the level of heat surrounding the distribution of naloxone as a harm-reduction measure. Not only does it mean putting needles on the street, it means putting a medication without a prescription into the hands of serious addicts – and giving them carte blanche to use it “as needed.”
Dan Bigg, of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, was the first to begin promoting the idea that naloxone should be freely distributed back in 1996. The ongoing debate has hit obstacle after obstacle and, ultimately, has found no champions of influence in the political sphere. However, about 188 programs exist in 15 states and provide naloxone as well as the training to use it correctly. According to the CDC, since 1996, these programs have reported that more than 10,000 overdoses have been successfully reversed and more than 50,000 naloxone doses have been handed out. Though some of the reversed overdoses may not have been fatal without assistance, these numbers show that the drug was used, and used correctly, to positive effect.
Heroin and Opiate Addiction Treatment
The idea behind clean needles and naloxone is not to enable ongoing addiction but to allow those who are living with an active addiction to live another day. The hope is that addicts might seek treatment, getting the help they need to live a life that is not marred by drug-related health problems, needles, withdrawal symptoms and the constant threat of death.
Don’t wait for politics to catch up to your needs. Contact us today and find a heroin rehab that can help you beat your opiate addiction before it beats you.