In the United States, we face a grave and serious situation with regard to both prescription opioids and heroin use. For far too long an unprecedented number of Americans have been able to access prescription opioids, even in situations where an alternative treatment could be utilized. In the wake of widespread over prescribing, an old drug reemerged on the scene—heroin.
Historically, heroin was thought to be a drug found only in heavily populated urban environments—used primarily among the poor and those of ethnic descent. While there may have been some truth to that idea in the past, it is far from reality today; Americans affected the most by illicit heroin and prescription opioid abuse reside in rural parts of the country—the Appalachian region strongly considered to be the epicenter of the American opioid epidemic.
If you have been following the media reports on this subject, it is likely that you have read about the efforts being made to mitigate the crisis. Efforts include:
- Expanding Access to Addiction Treatment
- Offering Treatment Instead of Jail Time
- Utilizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
- Making It Easier to Acquire Naloxone
By and large, there has been widespread support on both sides of the political spectrum for expanding access to the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone—sold under the brand name Narcan. Thousands of American lives have been saved by the miracle drug, prompting lawmakers, health experts and those who work in the field of addiction to call for legislation which would make it easier for the friends and families of addicts to acquire naloxone.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Time is of the utmost importance when it comes to an opioid overdose. Friends and family are, more often than not, the ones who are present—having naloxone on hand can better ensure a positive outcome. The good news is that states are jumping on board, and now practically every state has some form of legislation allowing people to buy naloxone without a prescription, Fox News reports.
“This saves lives, doesn’t seem to have any negative impact that we can identify, therefore it should be available,” said Dr. Corey Waller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.