You've Never Heard of It, But It's Saving Lives All Over America

Naloxone.  This drug isn’t exactly a household name, but it may be responsible for saving the lives of more than 10,000 people in Chicago since it became available in 1996. In 2007 alone, it saved about 1,300 lives in Massachusetts.  Since the drug became available in New Mexico in 2001, officials say it has saved 3,000 lives.

Not too bad for a drug you may not have heard of.

According to the Huffington Post, Naloxone is a drug that helps reverse the effects opioids, including heroin, OxyContin, and other painkillers.  While its use in emergency rooms has been widely documented, new initiatives starting to pop up across the country are starting to make Naloxone available as an over-the-counter medication to give friends and loved ones the ability to save the life of someone overdosing on opioids.

In Quincy, Massachusetts, police officers started carrying the drug in 2010, resulting in reversing the effects of over 200 overdoses to date. As a result of this initiative, the Quincy Police Department often find themselves being sought after by families and friends of overdose victims looking for life saving help. The track record Naloxone carries with it caught the attention of law enforcement in New Jersey. Last month, it was announced that many police departments in Ocean, Hunterdon, Camden, and Cape May counties an aerosol form of the drug, called Narcan as early as February.

The benefits of introducing Narcan to the police departments, especially in Ocean County where overdose deaths more than doubled last year, are obvious. It has the ability to drastically reduce the number of overdose deaths we will see in 2014. However, it must be stressed that this important measure is not taken as law enforcement condoning the actions of addicts. This must be viewed as a last resort option to save a life.


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While this is a great new tool in our state’s continuing effort against opioid abuse, it’s important to remember that this is not a panacea. Nothing can replace the importance of prevention work, especially done in the home. Parents need to be having open and honest discussion with their kids about this horrible trend. In a perfect world, we would never need law enforcement to carry Narcan. But for families who are dealing with the effects of addiction, this new initiative will help save the lives of their loved ones. Everyone deserves a second chance. Hopefully, for those who struggle with addiction, this will inspire them to put themselves on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

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