A welcome approach to opioid treatment – Orange County Register

La Habra is the latest local city to start equipping officers with naloxone, a drug which can be administered via injection or nasal spray to reverse opioid overdoses.

Communities across the country have proven that equipping police and other first responders with naloxone can save lives, and many more local cities should follow suit.

“Officers now carry a pouch containing a Narcan nasal spray that blocks and reverses the effects of opioid overdoses,” the Register reported. “The spray takes from one to three minutes to kick in, but the effects last as long as 90 minutes, which gives plenty of time for paramedics to arrive on scene and take over care.”

Given the tremendous stigma around drug use and abuse, it is often too difficult for people with substance abuse problems to reach out for help. Ingrained and institutionalized attitudes against drug use have, in turn, left few resources beyond the criminal justice system to actually assist those in need.

As one of the many unintended consequences of the failed “war on drugs,” police officers and other first responders have, unfortunately, been left to shoulder the burden of a job better left to medical professionals, and the longer communities go without considering and tolerating harm-reduction efforts, the more lives will be put at risk.

Only by taking a more holistic approach to drug abuse in the county can we save lives and money and prevent needless suffering.

“We’re in the business to save lives, and that’s what this does,” Lt. Mel Ruiz, who is heading up La Habra’s naloxone program, told the Register.

In light of the growing trend of fatal overdoses, it is imperative that this become the norm in O.C.

But, beyond naloxone, interacting with people with drug problems only at the moment of overdose certainly doesn’t suffice from a public health or a public safety perspective. There ought to be a greater focus on reaching people who are engaging in high-risk behaviors, including injection…

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