Some Experts Say Naloxone Alone Isn’t Enough to Address Opioid Addiction Crisis

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As more states expand access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, some experts say more is needed to address the opioid addiction crisis, USA Today reports. Opioids include heroin as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a law or developed a pilot program allowing naloxone to be administered by professional or lay persons. In some states, such as Ohio, people who administer naloxone must have specific training. Other states, such as Colorado, encourage education about overdoses and naloxone, but do not have training requirements.

Eric Fulcher, an emergency room physician at Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, told the newspaper he generally supports wider access to naloxone. He is concerned, however, that new laws that expand naloxone access “totally ignore” the overall problem of addiction, and may signal an underlying acceptance of intravenous heroin use. “Politicians will feel like they’ve dealt with the problem,” he said.

Karyn Hascal, president of The Healing Place, a Louisville recovery center, says while she supports easy access to naloxone for first responders, she worries providing the antidote to family and friends may give heroin users a false sense of security. They may think they can continue to use heroin, because loved ones will revive them with naloxone if they overdose, she said. “We’ve had a number of people here who have been revived several times by naloxone,” which may indicate they saw it as a safety net, she noted.

Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland called on the company that makes naloxone to lower the price of the drug nationwide. Last month, the company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, agreed to offer a $6 rebate per dose to agencies in New York state.

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    August 10, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    VJ, you say you’re son is using drugs but don’t mention what kind of drugs he’s using. That makes it difficult to offer you an opinion on what his future holds.

    There are a lot of drugs you can recover from and return to baseline, but for the addict, returning to baseline isn’t a pleasant feeling as that is what they were trying to escape from. Opiates, being as to how this is the topic of the article, in general don’t do much harm physically or mentally to the body (pharmaceutically pure stuff, not street junk cut with who knows what). The biggest hurdle psychologically is trying to break away from the normal day routines of a junky. I would assume that the junky who has an infinite amount of money who always could have/obtain easily an infinite supply of their opiate of choice would have a relatively easier time of getting off their opiate habit and returning to normal much more quickly than the junky who’s broke and is always focused on needing to do something in order to obtain the drug. It’s really about conditioning. I’m not sure what your situation is with your son, but basically, the more he thinks about it does things related to his drug usage, the harder it will be to quit psychologically. The reasoning is basically that he’s devoted most of his time to the drug, and so once he’s off, he won’t be sure of what exactly to do during his downtime.

    Also, you mention that he seems to have a hard time focusing and is unable to hold a conversation on serious subject matters. Is this something that was present before his drug usage or did it only occur after? It could be that your son has always had something like ADHD and his usage of drugs actually helped his condition (for example the usage of methamphetamine for someone with ADHD would actually help with their symptoms. Adderall which is amphetamine is one of the most prescribed drugs for ADHD). It’s important for you to figure out realistically what your son was like before and after his drug usage. If it’s the case that he used to be able to focus, but is now having an impossibly hard time focusing, then he could be suffering from some psychological issues. That’s really something that only time and effort could heal. If it so happens to be that he used drugs such as methamphetamine or certain other stimulants, it could take a LOT longer to heal as those drugs directly affect focus and attention. If he was addicted to opiates, once he’s through with most of the physical parts of withdrawal, his attention span should return back fairly quickly, but the biggest problem is that his post acute withdrawal syndrome could possibly leave him constantly craving, which is REALLY distracting when you need to pay attention.

    In my opinion, legalizing all drugs and putting strict regulations would be better than prohibition. Sure, that means that there’s more opportunity for people to become easily addicted, but it also means that we’ll be able to research and figure out how to help people with addiction because it’s more out in the open. Also, with legalization, people who are addicted would probably have less of a problem seeking help without fear of arrest or persecution and other problems related to the fact that their current activities are illegal. And finally, with legalization, being that their drug of choice is easier to obtain, and hopefully cheaper, they would have more time to devote to doing other stuff than doing what it takes to obtain their currently hard to get and expensive drug of choice which I think would actually make it so that it would be easier to quit because their brain would be used to doing activities not at all related to drug seeking. Make drugs legal, but discourage their use by not allowing promotion or advertising.

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    Samantha Wesley

    May 26, 2015 at 11:09 PM

    Of course Naloxone isn’t *treatment*.
    But it IS a lifesaver. And as one other comment addressed, it’s not just addicts that might need it.
    It should be available, just like clean needles and other healthcare related services, to reduce the number of opioid related fatalities, and it should be available widely…
    In my opinion it should be over the counter or free.

    I don’t think anyone could argue that it’s treatment for anything but overdose (or a life threatening reaction). It’s a tool to keep people alive. Like an epiPen. Why are we denying it to the persons that need it? Is it just so the statics can stay so awful, at the expense of lives?

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    April 23, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    My son is 24 year old and was taking drugs earlier, last time he took was 14 months back. He now knows that he has made a mistake. He is taking a treatment from Psychiatrist. He cannot sit for studies for more than one hour nor he can discuss anything serious. He says “he does not know what going on”.

    I would like to know from parents about the possibilities of these young guys becoming normal like any one of us and pursuing their studies. If yes, apart from the counseling & treatment, as a parent what is that we should do to help these guys overcome their problems. Kindly share your experiences.

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