Author: Leanne F. Savola
Mon, 29 May 2006
Detroit Free Press (MI)
A wave of overdose deaths from heroin mixed with a powerful pain medication, fentanyl, highlights the need for city and state leaders to focus on reducing drug-related harm to individuals and communities.
State and local health departments should immediately adopt effective prevention strategies to reduce overdose deaths, including providing heroin users, their friends and family, with Narcan, a medication that reverses opiate overdoses.
Successful overdose prevention programs launched in Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, New York City and New Mexico provide drug users with Narcan, a medication used by first responders and emergency rooms to reverse overdose; educate drug users about risk factors for overdose; and train drug users on rescue breathing and calling 911.
If any other group of people were dying in such large numbers, the city and state health departments would immediately act, getting preventive medicine to those in jeopardy. Drug users should be treated with the same amount of concern and respect. There is no place for moralism in public health.