Narcan is a drug that counteracts the effects of opioids on the body. It has been around for a few years now, and it is used in different capacities, but like so many others, there is controversy surrounding this drug.
Narcan, or Naloxone, is an opioid antagonist, meaning it keeps drugs like heroin and morphine from having an impact on the body. It is used in treatment of these types of addictions, to keep the person from feeling any effects of their drug use.
Narcan, for the last four years, has been available also to reverse opioid overdoses. Emergency rooms and first responders have doses of Narcan available to them in order to save an overdose patient. But people have taken it one step further and pushed to allow everyday citizens to carry Narcan in case of an overdose by a friend or loved one.
Narcan Available to All
A group called the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center in New York City has come under fire in the past for offering needle exchanges and other assistance to drug addicts. Now they are responsible for putting Narcan in the hands of over 400 people, and it is something they view as an achievement. These 400 plus people were trained by the center on how to be safe and avoid overdosing, and how to administer the Narcan shot if necessary.
People who have an interest in carrying Narcan include family members of heroin addicts, and opioid users themselves who hang out with other junkies. People with the Narcan feel empowered that they would be able to save a life if needed by giving the shot, and they appreciate the work organizations like the Harm Reduction Center do in their area to allow them to stay safe. Over 105 reversals have been done as a result of this program in New York. In Massachusetts, which also ran a pilot program of Narcan, over 500 people were saved from their overdose.
The question many of us are wondering, then, is what are these organizations doing to prevent the drug addiction that leads to overdose in the first place? Are these groups offering treatment and counseling to help addicts overcome their opioid addiction? It seems like the presence of Narcan is used as a safety net that allows someone to keep on using. As long as they know someone standing by can save them from overdose, it sure makes it easier to carelessly abuse these drugs.
We shouldn’t give up on the heroin addicts in this way. By giving a heroin junkie an emergency kit with Narcan in case they overdose, we are in a way taking away the danger of doing the drug, and helping them continue in their addiction. Instead of counting the number of people trained to carry Narcan or the number of overdose reversals, we should count the number of people getting off the drugs as the success – that should be the goal. A successful program would be one that rehabs addicts and thereby reduces the number of people that would even need a shot like this one.