Near Seattle, in Washington State, the leading cause of accidental death is now drug overdoses. The number of those who die because they have overdosed on substances such as opioids supersedes those who lose their lives in car accidents. The problem of drug overdose is so prevalent within this region that last month, four individuals died of opioid overdoses within three hours of each other, highlighting how crucial it is that the problem be addressed.
Many states across the country have noticed a steady increase in opioid abuse in recent years, and now that abuse comes with a new threat. Police in Seattle, like many other police forces nationwide, are seeing an increase in people abusing opioids, such as heroin, that is laced with an even more potent opioid known as fentanyl. While warnings have been distributed to the public regarding the presence of fentanyl in heroin, individuals who are addicted to opioids are still abusing it despite the possibility of this drug costing them their lives.
Sadly, this is all part of the dangerous cycle that is opioid addiction, which is nearly impossible to overcome without professional help. The pain that develops during the withdrawal period can be so distressing that individuals go right back to abusing just to obtain relief. Cravings can be incredibly powerful, causing even the most determined individuals to continue to use. However, what is important to know is that there are options available for those who are hooked on opioids like heroin, and there are also new interventions in existence that can prevent overdoses from claiming more lives.
How Naloxone Plays into the Fight Against Opioid Overdoses
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in an individual who is in need of life-saving measures. When someone abuses an opioid like heroin, naloxone can be administered, which affects opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the effects of the ingested opioid to prevent an overdose. Naloxone, which is available either through injection or a nasal spray, is effective in allowing an individual to evade a fatal overdose after consuming opioids.
Within Washington State, both the city of Seattle and King County have distributed 1,558 naloxone kits, and many pharmacies in Puget Sound have made them available as well. Additionally, Snohomish County has worked to train almost 1,000 community members who work for police departments, schools, housing providers, and more to administer this medication when necessary. However, as the opioid abuse problem continues to grow in the area, many people are looking for ways to obtain naloxone independently.
Ideally, in places such as Seattle, where the prevalence of this problem is great, friends and family members of an individual addicted to opioids are hoping to acquire naloxone so that they are able to administer it in the event of an emergency. Thankfully, with the implementation of the Good Samaritan law, those who are in need of naloxone will not be penalized by the law for acquiring this medication in order to prevent an opioid overdose.
The Controversy Behind Naloxone
Presently, there is a great deal of criticism surrounding the use of naloxone by those who are at-risk for overdosing on opioids. For example, many individuals believe that with the availability of this medication, individuals are likely to continue abusing opioids instead of getting help. On the other hand, there are others who hope that naloxone becomes more readily available to the public so that individuals battling this dangerous form of chemical dependency can get the immediate intervention that they need to prevent a fatal outcome. These varying opinions demonstrate how the stigma of addiction is still quite prevalent in today’s world.
If you are a loved one who would like to acquire a naloxone kit so that you can take the necessary steps to save your close friend or family member’s life in the event he or she shows signs of an opioid overdose, please visit stopoverdose.org for more information and to learn where you can possibly get a kit in your area.
At Cascade Behavioral Health, we believe that individuals who are grappling with a substance abuse problem deserve comprehensive treatment so that they can go on to live happy, healthy lives. If you or a loved one is afflicted with an addiction to opioids, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we can assist you or an important person in your life in becoming sober once and for all.