Tag Archives: substance abuse

Is Overdose Antidote Narcan Good or Bad? An Easy Compromise…

Unless you have been avoiding the news and social media for the last three to five years, you are aware of the massive heroin epidemic that has plagued our country.

The story has become all too familiar across every state and city in our great land: the over-prescribing of opiate pain pills; the abuse by young and old alike; massive addictions; abundance of cheaper heroin from Mexico; heroin addicts all around; death.

If you have missed these stories, sights and horrific sounds, one statistic summarizes it all: In 2015, there were more heroin deaths than gun deaths in the United States.

What you may not have heard about, depending on the state you live in, is that science has produced an extremely effective antidote to heroin overdose — Narcan (or Naloxone).  Administered in a variety of manners, including via a quick nasal spray, it has proven to immediately reverse the deadly effects of a heroin overdose in a matter of seconds.

Yet, as with many medicines in our country, the use, distribution and marketing of Narcan is riddled with controversy. The “pro-Narcan” camp argues that if we can save heroin addicts from death with an easy to find (yet expensive) medicine, it is our duty as fellow human beings to save them. The “anti-Narcan” camp argues that providing addicts with Narcan merely enables their continued use as they now have a life raft to bail them out of their deadly behavior.

As with many controversial issues in our society, BOTH sides in this debate are correct. We need to save lives where possible and Narcan can encourage continued use.

States across the country have attempted to solve this dilemma via a variety of regulations — some states require a prescription for Narcan, while others allow the drug to be obtained free and without a doctor.

With both sides having valid concerns, we should look to a very successful program courts across the country have used for decades to help with alcoholism — specifically, drunk driving.  In many states, such as my home state of California, part of the sentence for most individuals convicted of a DUI is that they attend a certain amount of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. These individuals are forced to get attendance slips signed at these meetings, and present the information regularly to the courts. These types of programs ensure the individuals are at least exposed to AA, which has helped millions of people stop drinking since its inception in the 1930s.

So why don’t we borrow this logic and require those seeking Narcan to regularly attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings? NA has similarly helped millions of addicts beat the disease. Requiring Narcan recipients to attend one NA meeting a week will at least ensure they are learning about the disease. And it will provide them a real opportunity to get sober, while also supplying them with a lifesaving tool.

So to the proponents and opponents of widespread Narcan distribution, can’t we agree on this tried and true solution that meets both of your goals? We save lives AND provide the tools for recovery. Doing one without the other kills.

Marc Treitler and his family are the founders and creators of the family addiction education website www.potatoallergy.com and the authors and illustrators of My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes.

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about substance abuse at www.potatoallergy.com. You can also find and connect with the authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

 

Photo: “Narcan” by PunchingJudy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mr. President-elect: Make Pain Pills Great Again

As our country prepares for a change in political power, the airwaves are full of promises of change. No matter what side you are on, we are all aware of the changes promised in health care, taxes, and immigration. Continue reading Mr. President-elect: Make Pain Pills Great Again

Why Locking the Medicine Cabinet is as Critical as the Gun Safe

Almost every gun owner with children knows that guns should be kept in a locked safe. Right? Unlocked, these devices become all too enticing as toys, and are bound to end up in the hands of children. And, often, these scenarios end in avoidable tragedies.

Continue reading Why Locking the Medicine Cabinet is as Critical as the Gun Safe

Why Can’t We Invent Non-Addictive Painkillers?

A walk through any major city in the U.S. shows ample evidence of our country’s daily technological breakthroughs. On a recent stroll through Chicago, I observed a boy on a hover board, travelers in hybrids and fully electric vehicles. People reading electronic messages on their watch and asking walking directions to their phones are commonplace.

Buildings along the Chicago River are powered by solar and wind and the offices are lit by state of the art LED bulbs that are 500% longer lasting than light bulbs made five years ago. Cell phones held in the hands of adults and children alike are 50 times more powerful than the largest super computers of the 1980s.

Yet a turn down the wrong street led me to scores of heroin addicts, some begging for money, some awake and others somewhere in between. And where did most of these addicts start their downward spiral? With prescription painkillers known to be addictive. These opioid painkillers have been used for 200 years to treat pain. The same pain killing treatment that led to a war between China and Britain in 1839 (known as the First Opium War) is now used by every doctor in the United States.

These massively addictive pills have led to deaths of pandemic propositions. In 2015, for example, the United States experienced more deaths from heroin overdoses than gun violence.

So in the last 200 years, our society has transformed every aspect of society and introduced cars, telephones, TV, radio, X-rays and a million other technologies used daily. But, painkilling technology has not changed, despite the massive death and destruction it causes? Can the same country that produced Tesla, the iPhone and eliminated HIV not develop painkillers that do not render people slaves to addiction?

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban, Bill Gates — where are the brilliant minds formulating non-addictive pain treatment? Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake. Where is our hero?

Marc Treitler and his family are the founders and creators of the family addiction education website www.potatoallergy.com and the authors and illustrators of My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes.

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about substance abuse at www.potatoallergy.com. You can also find and connect with the authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

Care About What’s in Your Food? How About Your Heroin?

As our society has jumped deep into the world of healthy food over the last decade, it is common for consumers to demand to know all of the nutritional information and ingredients in every bite they consume. At McDonald’s, you can now view the exact calorie count of your various choices. And Starbucks proudly displays loads of “nutritional” information in its stores and on its websites. Continue reading Care About What’s in Your Food? How About Your Heroin?

Dysfunctional DC is Not the Answer to the Heroin Epidemic

As suspected, President Obama’s proposal to allocate $1.1 billion to the treatment of opioid addiction did not make it into the bill that Congress passed earlier this month. Instead, the bill only provided $181 million dollars (and even at that the money is not appropriated to specific programs). Continue reading Dysfunctional DC is Not the Answer to the Heroin Epidemic

Why the 2016 Heroin Epidemic is Something You and Your Family Should Worry About

If you have children of any age, you need to be aware of the heroin epidemic affecting our country in 2016.  This is especially true if you have addiction in your family history.  This issue is increasing rapidly and something needs to be done to stop the epidemic. Continue reading Why the 2016 Heroin Epidemic is Something You and Your Family Should Worry About