Overdose drug law a public lifesaver

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Here’s a little perspective for you.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people dying from drug overdoses now rivals the number killed in traffic accidents each year.

Overdose deaths have steadily climbed during the past two decades, and roughly half are connected to the abuse of prescription drugs. Those casualties remained fairly stable from 2011 to 2013, after peaking in 2010.

But deaths from the use of heroin have skyrocketed 39 percent in the past 20 years.

In 2012, the CDC reported 5,927 heroin overdose deaths. That figure jumped to 8,260 in 2013, the latest data available.

Don’t care about some drug-addled loser whose addiction took his life?

Maybe you should. Because today’s heroin user is far different than what you might believe.

Fifty years ago, when heroin was the drug of choice in the 1960s, users were typically men from low-income neighborhoods who started using drugs around age 16.

Today’s addict, according to a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, lives in an affluent suburb and starts using around age 23. They discover heroin after abusing painkillers prescribed by a doctor or stolen from mom and dad.

It’s a grim picture for many American communities.

Fortunately, communities here in Indiana may now be better equipped to save some of those lives.

In late April, Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a bill that allows Indiana residents to purchase and use a drug that can reverse heroin overdoses.

Previously, the drug, known commercially as nalaxone or Narcan, could only be administered by a health official or first responder. Now, Hoosiers can save the lives of loved ones without waiting for help to arrive.

Despite missteps in other areas, this is one piece of legislation both chambers, which passed it unanimously, and Pence got right. The lives of many young people, lost to addiction but not without hope, may depend on it.

Proper treatment in a rehab facility would, of course, have to follow. But at least this drug, now available to us all, will give people that chance.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.