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Quincy Police Officers are Saving Lives by Reversing Opiate Overdoses

 

Opiate overdoses, including those induced by heroin and painkillers, accounted for 19,689 deaths in the United States in 2010. An opiate overdose causes CNS and respiratory depression, which is reversible if certain medication is quickly available, such as Naloxone, an opioid inverse agonist commonly known as Narcan. Emergency medical personnel and emergency rooms have been stocked with Narcan for nearly three decades, as it counteracts the CNS and respiratory depression when administered. However, only recently, these antidotes are now being used by both law enforcement and people who are affected by opiate addiction (Dahler and Hirschkorn). Quincy, Massachusetts is the first town in the United States to require all police officers who are on patrol to carry doses of Narcan. Since the implementation of this policy in 2010, they have experienced a 95% success rate in blocking and reversing opiate overdoses (Kim).

Put into effect in 2010, the town of Quincy now has about 200 police officers that are trained to use Narcan as an intranasal spray, and each police cruiser carries two doses of this antidote (Join Together Staff). Narcan works by blocking the opiates from binding to receptors in the brain and enables regular breathing within one to three minutes (Dahler and Hirschkorn). Since the implementation of this policy, officers have had to use Narcan 179 times, and experienced lifesaving success in 170 of these cases (Join Together Staff). Of the nine people who weren’t helped, five were already deceased when officers arrived and the remaining four had ingested additional substances (Join Together Staff). Even including these nine deaths, the Narcan experiment in Quincy has showed a 95% success rate.

In Massachusetts alone, over 500 people die annually from opiate overdoses (Dahler and Hirschkorn). Given these statistics, a 95 percent success rate for an antidote to these overdoses presents an amazing opportunity to save lives. It also represents an important, if unnoticed, change in policy by the Quincy narcotics and police departments. As Narcotics Detective Patrick Glynn, the overseer of the Narcan program in Quincy says, “It’s just a simple change where we decided that we cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic” (Join Together Staff). By noting and acting on this, Quincy law enforcement has taken an important step towards changing the focus regarding drug use and the resulting casualties.

Hopefully the success of the Narcan program in Quincy will encourage programs like this to be implemented in towns and counties all across America. Narcan is also being freely distributed to opiate users and their loved ones in a growing number of sites across the country. Hopefully law enforcement and government officials see the incredible impact these policies can have on people – they literally help to save lives.

Works Cited

Dahler, Dan and Phil Hirschkorn. “Nose spray Narcan reverses overdoses in Mass. town at high rate.” 21 July 2013. CBS News. Web. 24 July 2013.

Join Together Staff. “Massachusetts City Reports 95% SUccess Rate With Opioid Overdose Antidote Narcan.” 23 July 2013. DrugFree.org. Web. 24 July 2013.

Kim, Victoria. “OD Antidote Shows 95% Success Rate.” 22 July 2013. The Fix. Web. 24 July 2013.

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Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs · Tags: narcan, overdose, Police, Quincy