Shards of Consciousness

The Message of Overdose Kits

You are worth something.

Good message?

Poor message?

There is a program making its way across the country to give overdose kits to opiate users. Overdose kits. As in, if you find someone who has ODed, treat them immediately. Don't wait to get to a hospital. Don't leave it to the medical professionals. Treat them now. The drug is a nasal spray called naloxone which blocks the brain receptors that opiates lock onto, reversing the central nervous system and respiratory depression caused by an overdose. It instantly reverses the effect of the opiate. Naloxone is safe. It's been used for decades in emergency rooms. It's basically impossible to overdose on it. It isn't addictive. It has no long-term side effects. The most obvious short-term side effects are narcotic withdrawal symptoms.

Instead of death.

Naloxone in the emergency room has save thousands of lives. It's use in overdose kits by non-medical personnel has saved thousands of lives. Yet many people think it's use in overdose kits is a bad idea. Why?

  • It puts an overdose treatment in the hands of non-professionals who may not be competent to administer it.
  • It will encourage illicit opiate usage by making death by overdose less likely.

Say again?

Immediate treatment for an OD with a substance that can't kill you and is easy to use should be withheld because the user needs to be afraid enough of dying that they'll seek treatment for their addiction? We need to frighten people enough of the consequences of destructive behavior that they'll engage in constructive behavior?

I understand now. You need to fear hell enough that you'll do the "right" thing. That must be the reason non-medical drug use has such heavy criminal penalties. If they're scared enough of going to jail they won't do it. The old control through fear gambit.

I can see from the prison statistics that this line of thinking has worked just fine.

Some people may say that you need to hit bottom before you will begin to work your way back up. That could be, but if the bottom ends with death, you're not going up, down, or sideways. You're just gone. Near death - now that gives us something to work with.

There has been little research into whether overdose kits actually encourage narcotic use or not. NPR reports that one small study shows that the use of overdose kits reduces heroin use and get some people into treatment. Maybe that's because near death states have far-reaching effects on our psychology and physiology. Maybe that's because these programs tell users

You are worth something.

2 Responses to The Message of Overdose Kits

  • I, for one, am extremely glad to see this becoming available. You are entirely correct in that the "control through fear" method isn't working. In my opinion, it never really has. Not the way it is intended. Living in fear will keep someone in a bad life situation, but it will not get them out of it.

  • From what I've read the program has been pretty effective at saving lives where it has been implemented.

    When it comes to drugs, narcotic or otherwise, control through fear will never work. Humans have to strong a, let's call it a drive, for altered states of consciousness, to abandon them completely. If I had my way all drugs would be legalized. All the prohibition of drugs has done is enrich people you would really rather not have a lot of money, given the government more power, and poured tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars, along with tens of thousands of lives, down the drain without any net positive effect.

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