Pubdate: Tue, 05 Apr 2016
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Pueblo Chieftain
Author: Amanda Bent


This is in regard to the editorial, "Stop overdose deaths" that ran 
in The Pueblo Chieftain on March 29.

Thanks for drawing attention to the opioid overdose antidote 
naloxone. It is absolutely crucial that Coloradans are able to obtain 
this lifesaving medication conveniently at pharmacies and community 
distribution programs throughout the state. These efforts have gained 
traction in recent years, but there's more work to do.

In cases of overdoses on opioids like prescription painkillers or 
heroin, the victim's breathing dangerously slows or stops. If they 
have naloxone on hand, peers, friends or loved ones who already are 
on the scene can be the most effective first responders.

While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, bystanders can 
safely and easily administer naloxone to restore the victim's 
breathing as quickly as possible. This is the best way to prevent 
brain damage or death that can occur within just minutes.

Overdose deaths are highly preventable with prompt intervention that 
starts by empowering people in the best position to help. And while 
promoting widespread access to naloxone is vital to public health, we 
must also do our best to ensure that fear of law enforcement 
involvement is not a barrier to calling 911.

People may hesitate or avoid making that call if they are afraid of 
being arrested themselves or seeing someone else arrested simply for 
having drugs.

No matter how we view drugs or drug use, we can surely agree that 
saving lives takes priority over punishing behavior in medical emergencies.

Our Legislature can make that clear by providing stronger good 
Samaritan legal protections encouraging people to call for help in 
overdose situations.

Amanda Bent

MSW, MPP/Policy Coordinator Colorado Drug Policy Alliance

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