I think he’s mainly talking about the friends and family of opioid addicts, but then, that’s pretty much everyone, isn’t it?
Nalaxone is basically an antidote for an opioid overdose. You may have heard it referred to by one of the two primary brands of the drug – Narcan or Evzio. It’s common for police to carry it, although it’s not universal, since it requires funding. And not every police department thinks it’s their job to essentially bring addicts back from their own self-inflicted heroin overdoses, although I think most believe it’s their job to help if they can without judging how a person got in a life-threatening situation.
But Surgeon General Jerome Adams is taking things a little further in a rare surgeon general’s advisory – the first since 2005:
Surgeon General Jerome Adams is issuing a rare public health advisory on Thursday, calling for friends and family of people at risk for opioid overdoses to carry the OD-reversal medication naloxone. He likened the treatment to other livesaving interventions, such as knowing how to perform CPR or use an EpiPen.
The recommendation comes in the form of a surgeon general’s advisory, a tool used to draw attention to major public health issues. The last one, focused on drinking during pregnancy, was issued in 2005.
“What makes this one of those rare moments is we’re facing an unprecedented drug epidemic,” Adams told STAT in a phone interview Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of Americans are dying from drug overdoses each year, largely driven by opioids. While paramedics—and increasingly, police officers—carry naloxone, they often arrive too late for it to save someone’s life. In countless cases, family members and friends—often other people using drugs—have reported using naloxone to save an overdose victim, and the idea is that if more people have naloxone on hand, more people could be saved.
“It’s easy to use, it’s lifesaving, and it’s available throughout the country fairly easily,” Adams said.
I’m honestly not sure if anyone regards the surgeon general as authoritative. I wonder how many people even realize we still have a surgeon general.
But how bad has this problem gotten when Adams is recommending that civilians keep a stash on hand just in case?
It might be reasonable advice under the circumstances, but I have an issue with how we got to these circumstances. If you’re too young to remember, there used to be a thing called the War on Drugs. It was formally announced by President George H.W. Bush but before that it was a priority of First Lady Nancy Reagan. It was a combination of law enforcement, interdiction, treatment and education. But it all stemmed from a recognition that drug abuse had become a scourge that was damaging society and ruining individual lives.
Marijuana. Heroin. Cocaine. Quaaludes. LSD. Crack. The drugs had different effects and different potencies, but there was a societal consensus that drug abuse was a huge problem and that we needed a nationwide effort to combat it.
Somewhere along the line that consensus collapsed. The War on Drugs was said to have “failed” because people continued to do drugs. I would argue that it wasn’t the drug warriors who failed, but the individuals who chose to toke, snort, shoot up and otherwise partake in this stupid societal phenomenon.
Today you’re a hero if you openly tout your drug use, and nothing is considered funnier than to mock anti-drug people like me. States are moving to legalize marijuana, with a push to legalize other drugs sure to follow, all because they’ve decided they can’t win the fight.
We’ve gone from fighting drugs to throwing our hands up and trying our best to manage the problem.
And one result has been the opioid crisis. Now it’s true that much of this arises from legally prescribed opioids, but the societal phenomenon driving it is the same. Legal or illegal, people are medicating themselves as a first priority when there are all kinds of better ways they could pursue recreation, healing and pain relief. They’re chemically altering their consciousnesses and their body chemistry, usually not really knowing or understanding what they’re doing. They laugh at health warnings. They scoff at law enforcement. They just want to get high. And we’ve stopped telling them they shouldn’t because that’s sooooo 1980s.
And addiction has gotten so bad that the surgeon general is urging members of the public to carry naloxone around just in case.
Maybe we should have kept fighting that drug war. Maybe we should start again.
By the way, I do not drink alcohol, so come up with another one.
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Powers and Principalities (2009): Twenty years ago, Clay Bender saw the face of spiritual evil with the naked eye while attending a party. Now, Clay’s terrifying spiritual gift returns, showing him that a supernatural threat is looming – one that could threaten everyone in Royal Oak. As the community grapples with bizarre electrical disturbances and a horrible train derailment, only Clay can recognize the true nature of the strange events, and he and his two closest friends have little time to battle the city’s demons – even as all three are forced to face their own. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)
Pharmakeia (2010): Kyla Spears is being warned – in terrifying dreams – of grisly and violent tragedies looming for young people in Royal Oak. But her spiritually gifted friend Clay Bender is reluctant to help, and her feelings for one charming young man threaten her newfound spiritual integrity and her ability to face the truth about what’s really behind the threat. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)