As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the nation, a pivotal shift in the way society treats addiction problems is in motion. Narcan, the life-saving opioid reversal medication, is now being sold over the counter. This new development raises questions about accessibility and the stigma surrounding the opioid crisis and overdose-related deaths.
Data from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics shows that Florida’s unintentional and undetermined drug overdose death counts more than doubled from 2014 to 2016, with 2,175 deaths in 2014, 2,805 in 2015 and 4,672 in 2016. In addition to this, statistics show that Florida’s opioid overdose rate has about tripled since the year 2000, according to Florida’s Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council 2016 annual report.
Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of a heroin- and opioid-related overdoses if it is given before permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs occurs. Traditionally, emergency medical services (EMS) and some law enforcement officers have been equipped with Naloxone, most commonly known as the brand Narcan. Narcan comes in multiple forms, including a nasal spray and an auto injector. Equipping more people with this life-saving medication is an important step in the direction of overdose prevention and control over the opioid epidemic that is happening right in neighbors’ backyards.
“Sarasota County is not immune to drug problems, including abuse and misuse of street drugs, prescription medication and other harmful substances, which can also result in overdose deaths. Traditionally, law enforcement approached drug abuse in a one-dimensional manner, but we can’t arrest our way out of serious addiction issues,” as written on the Sarasota Sherrif website.