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Opioid Addiction

Caregivers Need Power to Fight Opioid Overdose

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Florida is experiencing an epidemic of opioid use and opioid overdose. When an opioid overdose occurs there are precious few seconds to save a person’s life.  

A caregiver or family member may find their loved one or patient unresponsive from an opioid overdose—unable to help them — and have little recourse except to call for emergency assistance and hope that help comes in time.  Often, a needless death is not prevented. 

However, an immediate injection of the drug Naloxone could help prevent this unintentional tragedy. 

In Florida, Naloxone is currently only available to healthcare professionals in clinical settings and emergency medical teams. The ability of laypersons to administer a prescription injection of Naloxone and prevent a fatal drug overdose is not available. 

State Rep. Julio Gonzalez of Venice, and Sen. Greg Evers of Pensacola, are attempting to change that with HB751 and SB758.  Their proposed legislation allows caregivers and others to obtain a prescription to the drug and have it available to administer in the event of an overdose.

The Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association agrees with these legislators and recommends passage of this legislation.  Twenty-one states have enacted laws allowing administration of Naloxone by laypersons. Now is the time to support passage of similar legislation in Florida.

Nationally, annual deaths from opioid overdose skyrocketed to almost 17,000 in 2011.  Let’s start to reverse these numbers. The injection can give patients a second chance at life and an opportunity to seek treatment.  

Death from an overdose is a tragic loss; all options should be employed to prevent such an unnecessary loss of life.  Making every second count by allowing caregivers to help reduce opioid overdose deaths through Naloxone administration is smart healthcare policy. 

Mark Fontaine is Executive Director at the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association in Tallahassee.