Why Naloxone May Be Only Slowly Coming To Light
Dedicated to those who did not have the chance of having naloxone.
I follow the news and media coverage of “overdose deaths” caused by heroin and prescription drugs. I utilize a number tools to bring a good deal of information across my desk.
Recently I read a blog post by NPR “It’s Proven To Save Lives, So Why Is Maine Opposed To Narcan?” 1 The article states
“Overdose deaths in Maine have come close to or exceeded the number of fatal traffic accidents in Maine. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 163, most involving opiates and a combination of other drugs.”
It goes on to report that
“Republican Gov. Paul LePage opposes a bill that would put Narcan in the hands of more first responders as well as relatives of addicts. LePage vetoed a similar measure last spring, saying it would provide a false sense of security to drug abusers.”
When one follows all the topic related data, it is clear that LePage is overlooking some glaring facts about permitting the availability of Narcan to the public he governs. I have to ask myself the question of why?
Some facts about naloxone….
Narcan (naloxone’s trade name) is not a feel good drug. Narcan acts much like an epipen when someone is having an allergic reaction. It simply reverses the effect of overdose. Opiate
overdose is preventable.
Eliza Wheeler of Harm Reduction explained to me during a recent interview that most drug addicts don’t use drugs to overdose, most overdoses are accidental. Additionally, using naloxone on someone who is overdosing is not a very pleasant experience for them. It can feel like they have a very bad case of the flu. The facts are simple. Providing the availability of naloxone, provides the chance for another breath. A breath is another chance to recovery. (See full interview.)
The fact is we have acknowledged that addiction is an illness. It is in the DSM IV manual. There are several studies by very accomplished doctors who’ve written streams of content on what happens to the brain when it becomes addicted. It is not normal. Normalcy is lost. Thereby the logical decision making process is lost as well. Here are just two accounts from two of the many doctors who’ve written books and journals on the newer “science” of addiction.
“What you many not know is that in addiction, the shape, structure and function of your brain cells actually change in response to your experiences. Addiction is not just a chemical imbalance. Addiction is the result of many complex changes in the circuitry of the brain.” -Omar Manejwala, MD Cravings
“…their brains have been hijacked by the disease of addiction and their decision-making with respect to addictive behaviors is not consistently under their control…” -Omar Manejwala, MD Cravings
“It is actually no more a choice than your biochemical demand for insulin is a “choice” for a diabetic person.” -David Kipper, MD The Addiction Solution
“Make no mistake: Addiction is a disease –a clearly defined health problem that must be treated medically to ensure long-term success”. -David Kipper, MD The Addiction Solution
It appears that in addiction, the normal point is lost. The person, while may have had a choice to try a drug, once in the addicted state has an alterered brain. The brain is a powerful, an independent component of the human being that is programmed to survive. The drugs eventually become a survival requirement for the brain to function.
Not a newcomer…
We have a preventative cure (naloxone) to prevent overdose, a current epidemic. Why would only a handful of states approve the distribution and education of naloxone? It has been around for 50 years. I have to ask myself the question, why have we ignored all of these medical facts? If addiction is identified in the DSM IV manual as a mental illness, then why do we continue to treat this illness based on some morale that we’ve created around drug use and drug addicts?
Bringing the facts together…
Going back to the NPR article, it goes on to state
“LePage proposed hiring 14 more drug agents and expanding drug courts. He did not address treatment.”
“We must hunt down the dealers and get them off the street,” he said. “We must protect our citizens from drug-related crimes and violence. We must save our babies from life-long suffering.”
When a famous person dies from this tragic disease called addiction, there are massive amounts of reports and conversation that occurs around these topics, however, many which are based on outdated data. Our belief systems have been programmed to believe that addiction is a choice and some sort of moral dilemma. Research shows that we have mistakenly overlooked the newer data that is available. This new data is not mainstream news. As a result, we continue to treat addicts with a bias –a stigma that makes them responsible for their illness.
I think the answer to my “Why” is simple. Follow the money…
“…state and federal forfeiture laws, police can seize and keep ill-gotten gains related to criminal activities, such as the money a buyer brings to purchase cocaine and the car driven to the deal.” 2
“During the Reagan administration, the government started incentivizing drug arrests by handing out grants to police departments fighting drug crimes. An arrest in a state like Wisconsin could bank a city or county an extra $153.” 3
So is LePage actually more interested in these government incentivized programs rather than truly helping the public he was voted to serve? I know the first time I read that there were incentives currently available for law enforcement to make drug arrests, it seemed to me like a certain conflict of interest.
Here is a a look at how this translates to money in one area of Florida…
- Top cities in Broward and Palm Beach counties for forfeiture revenues, 2011 and 2012 4
- Sunrise: $5,882,441
- Fort Lauderdale: $1,830,164
- Coconut Creek: $1,516,229
- Coral Springs: $1,507,646
- West Palm Beach: $1,292,251
- Hollywood: $1,007,948
- Miramar: $695,857
- Pembroke Pines: $650,094
- Boca Raton: $516,300
- Boynton Beach: $424,057
Do these facts glare to you too?
There is one more important topic to mention when following the data trail as it relates to these subjects. America, while having only 5% of the world’s population has 25% of their population imprisoned. Has America gone to hell in a handbag? No, let’s just keep following the money.
Most people don’t know that 50% of our prisons have been privatized. Privatized prison is a huge industry making many tons of money. What’s worse is that we not only have industrialized prison, it is legal for these prisons to lease out prisoners. Convict leasing is legal. Privatized prisons can lease out prisoners from $0.95 cents to $2.95 cents per day.
To quote a article I once read… “Wells Fargo thinks that the private prison industry is a great idea.”
When I look at these facts together on one table, in one discussion, they collectively tell me a very different story about drugs, addiction and our current outdated legal agenda. It’s time to re-educate America and it’s people on drugs, addiction and the money trail. It’s a billion dollar industry. The true victims are the addicts and their families who are left desparate to help their loved ones.
Mr. LePage –oophs, to earn a title to govern people, you have to have the best interests of those people at the center of your focus. Please stop following the money and … please, please, please, help the moms of your state help their kids – let the naloxone bill pass.