Pubdate: Mon, 05 May 2014
Source: Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)
Copyright: 2014 Daily Reflector


The Pitt County Sheriff's Office is to be commended for leading North
Carolina law enforcement agencies in becoming the first to equip its
officers with a drug that can save the life of someone overdosing on

Sheriff Neil Elks announced last week that his deputies will begin
carrying Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose of
several opioid painkillers. Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden said
his department will soon begin carrying the drug as well.

The number of deaths from overdoses in the United States involving
prescription opioids more than quadrupled between 1999 and 2010,
according to an April 23 article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The dramatic rise in overdose deaths from prescription opioids -- such
as Codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, OxyContin and Percocet --
parallels a 300 percent increase since 1999 in the sale of such strong
painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The North Carolina Injury & Violence Prevention branch of the
Department of Health and Human Services places overdose deaths in the
category of unintentional poisonings. Eighty percent of the state's
unintentional poisonings are listed as being related to prescription

The state recorded 1,104 overdose deaths in 2012.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law last year that
protects bystanders who call for help during an overdose and provides
immunity from criminal or civil liability for the person administering
the potentially life-saving antidote, Narcan.

The Sheriff's office partnered last fall with the Pitt County
Emergency medical Service board, East Carolina University's Brody
School of Medicine and the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition to discuss
the use of Narcan.

Deputies are approved to administer the nasal drug when they respond
to an overdose. It is reasonable to expect that law enforcement
agencies statewide will soon follow suit.

Narcan may not address the root problems contributing to prescription
drug abuse, but its availability must be utilized to help stem the
epidemic of deadly results. Pitt County can be proud of its leading
example in that effort.
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