The national drug overdose epidemic has been steadily on the rise for nearly 20 years. From 1999 to 2010, deaths surged a colossal 102 percent. And while overdoses kill more people each year than either cars or guns, the debate over what can be done to address the disturbing trend often gets overshadowed by noisier killers.
Opiate-based prescription drugs like Codeine, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Methadone, Fentanyl, Meperidine and heroin account for the vast majority of overdose deaths. All of these, except heroin, are legal and prescribed daily. Check your medicine cabinets and chances are you have many vials filled with these pills. Ever take a Vicodin, Tylenol #3, Norco, Lortab, percocet, percodan? You've taken opiate-based drugs.
And there's a medication which can save your life if you should accidentally overdose.
That's great news. Well, it would be great news if only it was available everywhere. So what's the hang-up?
Naloxone isn't controversial. It was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 1971. It's non-addictive, non-toxic, fairly cheap and easy to administer through nasal or intravenous application. Studies have been found that naloxone is capable of reducing overdose deaths by as much as 50 percent when paired with proper training and distribution.
Sounds quite benign and safe, considering that not using it will most likely result in a 100% death rate for those in this mortal state. Keeping that in mind, what would be the sound reason for this medication not to be available everywhere? Why have only 15 states passed laws allowing for the usage of it?
The Fix, a website that covers addiction and recovery, explained opposition to naloxone as a "moral discomfort among drug warriors who apparently feel that the wages of drug use should be death." Many of the drug's critics claim that increasing access to naloxone will only encourage increasingly dangerous drug use, though studies have not been able to confirm this hypothesis. Proponents are quick to point out that any risks associated with naloxone would be minimal compared with the alternative -- death.
So my elderly mom accidentally takes too much of a prescribed medication and she's going to die because someone somewhere abuses that medication? Hey, that's my mom we're talking about. She deserves to live. She's not a druggie.
Wake up America. If we use that logic, we wouldn't have any medications because somewhere, someone might be using it to save an abuser's life. Should we take away defibrillators too? How about oxygen tanks? Needles? Penicillin?