Say hello to the Office on National Drug Control Policy and to faith-based drug overdose prevention. One public health intervention that saves lives is the distribution of Narcan nasal sprays to drug users:
The nasal spray is a drug called naloxone, or Narcan. It blocks the brain receptors that heroin activates, instantly reversing an overdose.
Doctors and emergency medical technicians have used Narcan for years in hospitals and ambulances. But it doesn’t require much training because it’s impossible to overdose on Narcan.
The Cambridge program began putting Narcan kits into drug users’ hands in August. Since then, the kits have been used to reverse seven overdoses.
New data compiled for NPR by researcher Alex Kral of the consulting firm RTI International show that more than 2,600 overdoses have been reversed in 16 programs operating across the nation.
Fewer dead people good. Yes. Maybe not?
But Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs.
“First of all, I don’t agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. That’s No. 1,” she says. “I just don’t think that’s good public health policy.”
Madras says drug users aren’t likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. More importantly, she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isn’t as likely.
Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug user’s motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.
“Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services,” Madras says.
Because bringing addicts to the break of death is a really good public health policy. Of course, Madras doesn’t have any actual data to support her claim–think of it as faith-based addiction policy. As long as
werightwing fucknozzles view drug addiction primarily as a moral problem, and not a health problem, we will be faced with this kind of stupidity.
And desperate people won’t get the help they need to stay alive.
(HT: Mark Kleiman)