Narcan, which goes by the generic name naloxone, can be given to a drug user in the middle of an overdose and almost instantly bring them back from the edge. Should tax payer funds be used to provide a “safety net” for drug users?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Recently, a “miracle drug” that can save even the most heavily overdosed drug user has come into greater use among the nation’s first responders, medical personnel and even in some states the families of known addicts. Narcan, which goes by the generic name naloxone, can be given to a drug user in the middle of an overdose and almost instantly bring them back from the edge. It is honestly a miracle drug.

However, the governor of Maine just vetoed a bill expanding publicly funded access to Narcan. The sheriff in Butler County, Ohio, has opposed similar action. Why?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the last couple of years, you know that money-hungry pharmaceutical companies have been ratcheting up the prices of popular life-saving drugs by 200% or more, sometimes much more. It’s a flat-out money grab, and it’s disgusting and should be slapped down by governmental action as soon as possible.

However, that’s about as likely to happen as me trying heroin, so let’s look at the other side of the issue.

This will sound cold, and perhaps it is, but I don’t support creating a publicly funded “safety net” that allows addicts to overdose repeatedly, secure in the knowledge that Saint Narcan will always be there to save them. Public health funds are in critically short supply, and the thought that poor kids in the inner city might have to miss their flu shots because of addicts who continue to abuse the rescue system makes me angry.

In Texas, when Hurricane Ike approached the coast, Gov. Rick Perry announced an evacuation. Those who refused to evacuate were told, “We’ll come look for you after the storm, but don’t call us for rescue.” Something like that for those who repeatedly abuse the actions of first responders would not go awry in my book.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Make no mistake about it, naloxone (Narcan) is a wonder drug in the category of Lipitor, Norvasc, and Lisinopril. Each one essentially reverses a medical condition brought on by personal behavior and unhealthy choices. Granted, Narcan is more spectacular in that it can literally bring someone back from the dead, but the others also serve to dramatically reverse negative health conditions.

The three drugs mentioned beside Narcan treat the effects of overeating, smoking, and high salt, sugar, and fat intake by reducing or minimizing heart problems such as clogged arteries, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. What all these four drugs have in common is allowing users to rationalize unhealthy behaviors because they know that taking a certain drug will negate the side effects of their bad lifestyle choices.

This means the question of taxpayer funding of a safety net for drug users becomes one of “Should taxpayers subsidize those who choose to ingest potentially lethal drugs by providing them an antidote for free?” Should taxpayers be held liable for any destructive behaviors, whether they are related to food, drugs, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, and drinking to excess, or even dangerous activities such as speeding on public roads or driving while intoxicated?

Rational thinkers would likely believe taxpayers should not fund destructive behavior by made willingly by individuals. Yet, as more and more well-intentioned programs are set up to aid those who have problems, a line must be drawn between tax-funded programs that deal with unpreventable problems versus problems that are self-inflicted by individuals.

On a larger scale, the notion of publicly-funded health care and insurance already subsidizes deliberately poor choices such as not exercising, overeating, or smoking. Costs of treatment have become so expensive that insurance premiums have gradually escalated to where everyone—individuals, businesses, and public institutions—is scrambling to afford premiums and deductibles.

Providing a safety net for users of illegal drugs is a luxury that can’t and shouldn’t be addressed by taxpayer-funded solutions until the overall health care and health insurance crisis has been brought under control. The better solution is to allow Narcan to be made readily available by drug companies for retail distribution and let individuals pay for it themselves.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Truly, the naloxone medication has been used for years by paramedics and doctors in ERs to resuscitate or save the lives of many who suffered from an overdose. In various states, some drug addicts are allowed to carry these substances, once they are addicted to substances such as heroin or opioids.

From a drug addict perspective, naloxone is the ideal remedy to cure their problems. Why, they could greatly indulge in their debased and debauched lifestyle, then have a naloxone shot so as not to lose it. The inventor of naloxone should be awarded for such an outstanding discovery! Really?

If you hadn’t noticed, I was being sarcastic. No, it’s not right or fair to have tax payers funding these so called safety nets of these addicts. Naloxone should not be funded by taxpayers hard earned dollar, as that would only be encouraging them to abuse drugs. It’s like giving horny teenagers condoms and telling them not to have sex. It doesn’t work. Funding such a potent substance does have its benefits, but I believe society should be more concerned about providing awareness and discouraging people against drug abuse, against giving them a substance to indulge and then reverse the effects. Society needs to go forward, not two steps backward.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Tax payer funds should not be used to provide a continual “safety net” for drug users, and in the case of naloxone, the drug to bring back drug users from overdoses related to heroin and opioid painkillers, tax payer funds are not necessarily always used to purchase this antidote.

In many areas of the country where heroin and related drug use is epidemic, Narcan/naloxone is supplied to law enforcement through grants. Two counties in Pennsylvania were provided Narcan through the district attorney’s office there. A grant of $150,000 was awarded by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association for use by police departments to aid in drug overdoses. The money originated through Capital Blue Cross Insurance for those areas of Pennsylvania served by the company.

Some tax dollars are used for the purchase of Narcan by different groups other than police departments. When taxpayer money is used, it is through Federal grants that are channeled through the states and distributed where needed.

With the burden of drug abuse and drug overdoses at an all time high, taxpayers simply should not be asked to bear an ongoing burden with the large number of overdoses that are being seen across the country, particularly in states that have high overdose rates. West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Oklahoma have seen skyrocketing overdose rates since 2014 with death from overdoses occurring at an alarming rate.

Overall, it appears that the contributing factors to drug overdose deaths in these states and others are due to mental health issues, those experiencing chronic pain, poverty, joblessness, escape from the emotional pain and stress of everyday living, higher crime rates through drug related arrests, the increased availability of opiods, and the overprescribing of opiod painkillers by medical professionals.

Overprescribing painkillers to individuals who experience chronic pain oftentimes leads to those same individuals becoming dependent and addicted to opiods. Patients are brought to dependency, addiction and higher thresholds of tolerance for opiods. Some turn to increased usage and go on to deeper drug use, such as heroin. This pattern can lead to overdosing and the need for an antidote such as Narcan.

Taxpayers indirectly pay for those who abuse drugs in terms of lost work productivity, health-care expenses and criminal-related costs which run in the billions, so there has to be a way to curb heroin and opiod use, and it is up to local and state legislatures and other organizations to find funding through means other than taxing citizens.

In order to save taxpayers from the burdens of overdoses and the costs of supplying Narcan to overdose victims, efforts must be intensified towards the safer prescribing of opiods , which has been facilitated through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Guidelines have been developed for the prescribing of opiods for those who suffer chronic pain. Other efforts should include protection of those already using opiods from health damage and overdoses, which include the expansion of access to naloxone and access to individualized treatment as well as behavioral therapy and other preventative programs. In addition, public health, medical personnel (doctors, medical examiners and coroners) and law enforcement agencies must work together to advance detection of overdose occurrences and prepare for them. Thorough investigations, testing, reporting, and monitoring of the kinds of drugs that are causing overdoses also needs to be considered in any drug abuse program.

In order for taxpayers to gain a reprieve from drug offenders and individuals that overdose, steady funding for Narcan supplies and treatment needs to come from a number of directions. Donations from health organizations, private organizations, drug companies and specific grants all need to increase. Low cost treatment facilities and other resources also need to be incorporated into heavily hit areas of the country so that those addicts who have been revived can survive and not resume drug use.

Rules do need to be established for repeat overdose offenders, which include advising offenders who have been revived by Narcan that they must be enrolled in a drug treatment plan upon receiving their first antidote. They need to know that continual revival attempts with the antidote are not going to become a catch all for any time a user intensifies heroin or other opiod use.

Treatment is the answer and that needs to be the sticking point for anyone who receives Narcan. There may be exceptions with unintentional overdoses, but too much leeway is never a good idea with addicts. If taxpayer funds are used, they need to be reserved for proactive treatment plans and Narcan supplies tightly controlled for a once or twice use, and addicts need to know that.

 

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