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Category Archives: Overdose Prevention

Families Now Have a Tool to Prevent Overdose

narcan-with-needle3-300x234One person dies every 19 minutes from unintentional drug overdose (Paulozzi 2012). Pennsylvania is among the ten states with the highest opioid use and overdose rates (Paulozzi 2012).  With these staggering statistics, families at times may feel powerless in protecting their loved ones from an overdose.  However, on September 30, 2014, Pennsylvania legislators voted to enact a law that will provide a tool to prevent overdose.   Effective December 1, 2014, Pennsylvania became the 21st state to implement a “Good Samaritan Law” which allows an individual to call 911 or emergency services for a person who is overdosing without fear of facing charges themselves for being involved in drug use or being impaired.

The Good Samaritan Law also added Pennsylvania to the list of states which provide legal access to Naloxone, a lifesaving drug that reverses the effects of opiates/opioids. To date there are 29 states which provide access to either families, friends or both. The means of access vary from state to state but here in PA, starting December 1st, any physician can write a prescription for the lifesaving drug Naloxone to family members or friends. The stigma of addiction in today’s society is bad enough, but withholding a lifesaving drug based on stigma alone is inexcusable.

Now with the passing of The Good Samaritan Law, friends and family members of someone who is in an active opiate addiction can get a prescription so that they will have it on hand in case it is needed.  The access to Naloxone should not be reserved for opiate dependent persons. Anyone who is prescribed an opioid runs the risk of accidental overdose. So perhaps in order to protect our family and friends, Naloxone should be scripted to anyone receiving a prescription for an opioid pain medication. Since all opioid pain medications carry the risk of accidental overdose, this precautionary measure would no doubt save lives.

The access to Naloxone should not be stigmatized as a safety net as some have called it, but as a tool to prevent overdose.  Recovery support services and family education should follow any treatment for a substance use disorder.  The Good Samaritan Law provides a way for families and friends to prevent their loved ones from overdose, and accessing emergency services without fear of incrimination. The Good Samaritan Law also allows families and individuals who have experienced an overdose to get the support they need to start their path to recovery.  Through education and recovery support services, individuals and families will learn tools and strategies to help break the intergenerational cycle of addiction and preserve our next generation.  What our community can learn from the enactment of the Good Samaritan Law is that every life is valuable and we need to offer all supports available to protect the next generation. 

The Council’s Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board offers an “Overdose Prevention, Education and Response Training” that walks a person through treating someone who is experiencing an overdose and how families can administer Naloxone.  This training is not meant to replace calling 911, rather it designed to stabilize a person until first responders arrive. The first step in any overdose, should always be to call 911. It is vital to get the person who is overdosing medical attention even after the person is given Naloxone and brought out of their overdose. Since the effects of heroin outlast the effects of naloxone, the person could slip back into an overdose once the Naloxone wears off.

So now that the Good Samaritan Law has been enacted, it will no doubt save lives. It is our responsibility to let people know that this law exists and how to navigate it. If you have a friend, family member or loved one who could benefit from this law and access to Naloxone, let them know about it and encourage them to attend a training. The Council will be offering a newly revised training in January that expands on The Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone administration and distribution.  For more information please visit our Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board webpage: http://councilsepa.org/programs/prevention/overdose-prevention-and-education/

David Fialko, BS
Prevention Specialis
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Unintentional Drug Overdoses: An unfortunate trend affecting all communities and what you can do.

opiates-abuseBucks County and the rest of the Country continues to battle the escalating problem of Prescription Medication and Heroin abuse. Heroin is no longer an “inner city drug”. It has made its way into all of our suburbs and it appears it is not leaving anytime soon despite law enforcements vigilant efforts. For people aged 25-64, more die from drug overdose than car crashes. In October of this year, 63 people in Bensalem, Pa., overdosed on opiate/opioid drugs. Recently, the Trust for America’s Health released a report which found Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths. This report also noted that Pennsylvania had 15.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2010 and most of those deaths involved the use of prescription drugs.

Here in Bucks County there were 136 drug-related deaths(documented by DAWN). Of these deaths, opioids were the number one cause of drug-related deaths with heroin being specified in half of the deaths. Furthermore it was documented that more than 50% of the deaths were people under the age of 34. Nationally, drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose deaths have jumped 102-percent from 1999 to 2010 and as of the last reporting in 2010, 60-percent of those deaths were related to pharmaceuticals.  The CDC also found that of the 38,329 overdose deaths in 2010 that involved pharmaceuticals, 75-percent involved some form of opioid.

So what do prescription opiate pharmaceuticals and heroin have in common? They are both opiates and both have a very high potential for dependency and addiction as well posing very serious health risks such as overdose. Many young people begin experimenting with prescription medications and move to heroin due to the high cost associated with pharmaceuticals. Here is an informational brochure on Heroin and one on Prescription Medications. Also find out how and where to safely and legally dispose of your unused / unwanted prescription medications here

The Overdose Prevention and Education Advisory Board invites you to come out and find out what is being done in both Bucks  County as well as state wide regarding opiate drug use and the rise in overdoses. Attending will allow you to be part of not only the conversation but learn how you can be part of the solution. We will be meeting monthly at various locations throughout Bucks County for convenience of the communities. By attending, you are not required to attend future monthly meetings although you are always welcome. If you are interested in becoming a member, membership only means that you will receive monthly e-mails regarding issues related to overdoses and opioid drug use. The Task Force is also forming sub-committee’s based on areas of interest and professional experience. We welcome everyone to participate; community members, law enforcement, recovery services, medical providers, pharmacists, persons in recovery, etc.

 Task Force goals include but are not limited to:

  • Educating others on the topic and saving lives. Outreach and education creates partnerships that may then focus on other initiatives or strategies.
  • Promoting awareness and encouraging further action.  Actions may include getting the word out and gaining support for legislative actions such as Senator Pileggis HB 1164 – Good Samaritan Act.

 Please feel free to contact David Fialko with any and all questions at 215-230-8218 x 316

Our next meeting is January 22, 2014 and is being hosted by:
Livengrin – The Foundation For Addiction Recovery:  Oxford Valley
195 Bristol-Oxford Valley Rd.
Langhorne, PA  19047
Meeting time: 6:00 pm to 7:30pm
Food and beverages will be provided

This program is made possible by funding through the Bucks County Drug Alcohol Commission, Inc.

 * SAMHSA and the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality  National Surveys on Drug Use and Health

David Fialko, BS
Prevention Specialist

Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12, 252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.345.6644

 

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