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Narcan: Saving the Lives of Heroin Addicts

The lives of heroin users are being saved all around the United States due to a miracle drug that is now readily available to them. Narcan, otherwise known as Naloxone, reverses the effects of an opiate overdoes. It used to just be administered to doctors and paramedics but is now available to the public, and most of the time with no cost. The one requirement needed to obtain this drug, is to be trained on how to use it.

Narcan is injected when a person overdoses, is non responsive and cannot be revived by CPR. 1cc is given and takes just a few minutes to work; however a person may need more than one shot. The drug wears off in 30-90 minutes. Once the Naloxone has worn off the overdose victim may suffer another overdose or can go into withdrawal so it is imperative for the victim to not be left alone for at least an hour from when the drug was administered.

On the outskirts of Chicago is where many users can find this drug, given out by Steve Kamenicky. Mr. Kamenicky has a tent staked out along a row of small encampments taken on by the homeless, on the edge of the brickyard. Mr. Kamenicky is a user himself. Many might say he is a dealer, giving out Narcan, but in fact what he is doing is legal.

Steve claims he has saved more lives than the paramedics; at least 35 in the past few years. Mr. Kamenicky receives the Naloxone for free from The Alliance, a nonprofit needle exchange and H.I.V. prevention program. Along with Narcan, The Alliance also hands out syringes, condoms and other paraphernalia to users in hopes that they will make “any positive change,” which is the group’s saying.

Programs such as these exist in Wisconsin, New York, California and other states. There are many people that don’t support the efforts of handing out such things to addicts; they believe it promotes more drug use.

Chicago carries the highest rate of heroin related ER visits, 23,931 in the years 2004 to 2008, which is 50 percent higher to New York City which is ranked second.

Greg Scott, a professor at DePaul University, has interviewed up to 300 users who come to the brickyard to use their dope before going on with their daily lives. He stated that he has interviewed people that are house-wives and traders to the homeless man you walk past everyday on your way to work. Traders are the least responsive to getting the drug, and he believes it is because “they don’t want to admit they might have a problem.”

Too many times there are the unfortunate who don’t have a second chance to live and wont wake up from their over dose. Steve Kamenicky has lost one person. Cook County has had a rise in opiate overdoses in the past year. In 2007 there were 280 and 2008 there were a reported 390.

Many people might think it is promoting drug use by handing out things such as Narcan and clean syringes. Does having condoms available promote sex? Whether the supply is there or not people are going to do what they want to do. Why not hand out material in which they can do their unsafe behavior in the safest way? In the end it is best for the whole community, the spread of disease decreases and the amount of lives saved increases.

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Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Latest News · Tags: dope sick, Drug Abuse, heroin abuse, heroin addict, heroin overdose, HIV prevention, HIV Prevention programs, homeless drug addicts, homeless drugs, Naloxone, narcan, narcan heroin addiction, narcan inject, narcan injected, narcan opiate addiction, narcan overdose, Narcan Saving lives of heroin addicts, narcan shot, steve kamenicky