For a few years now, some states have armed their local police officers and EMT's with Narcan, a drug that has the potential to reverse the effects of a heroin (and other opioid) overdose. According to reports, Narcan has been a lifesaver in states such as Massachusetts, where it has worked on 211 of the 221 people it has been used on since 2010. Other states that are using Narcan include New Jersey and Connecticut, and now New York will follow.
Just this week, the New York State Attorney's office is following the initiative put in place by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide NYPD with Narcan. The initiative will provide nearly 20,000 doses of Narcan to cops and will cost the state $1.7 million. There is no word yet on when Narcan (otherwise known as naloxone) will be getting into the hands of the NYPD, but it is said to be in the near future.
Being in the field that I am in, I am familiar with Narcan. I am also familiar with how its use can be controversial, but I feel like this initiative will do more good than bad. I look at addiction as a disease. I know it is hard for some people to share that viewpoint, but that's what it is. I don't believe that most people use heroin with the intention to die, but do understand that sometimes that does occur (although rarely). I think that putting Narcan in the hands of law enforcement officials is a great solution, because no one should die from heroin overdose.
This new movement is huge. It's a great idea overall, and if done properly, can be groundbreaking in the fight against the heroin epidemic that our country is facing. I understand that some people might view the use of Narcan as enabling behavior, but I don't see it that way. If Narcan was made available to the general public, I could understand the fear that it would be utilized poorly. However, at this time, it is mostly reserved to law enforcement officials and doctors who can prescribe it to family members of heroin and/or other opiate addicts in case of an emergency.
Like I said before, I don't believe that most people who are using heroin are using in hopes that they lose their lives. In my addiction, drinking started off as a way to escape. It then became a way of survival, because I couldn't go through my day without drinking. Then things got really bad -- my addiction had progressed so much that it was no longer about escaping or trying to make it through the day, but I was suicidal and looking to take my own life.
With that being said, it is important to understand that there is no recreational use of heroin. I never used heroin, but I have lived to see what addiction can do to a person, and the types of lows it can bring. I am hopeful that New York won't be the last state to use Narcan, because I think the use of it will help give people another shot at recovery instead of put them six feet under.