SAVE LIVES Active users need to be kept alive long enough to seek treatment. First responders and emergency rooms lack adequate supplies of naloxone, the medication that can save someone who has overdosed on opioids, particularly fentanyl, a drug so toxic it requires multiple doses of naloxone to reverse. Both federal and state health agencies can negotiate lower prices and expand access to naloxone, and provide encouragement to the pharmacies that are already offering it prescription-free in many states. Congress can help by passing legislation to protect the responders who administer naloxone from liability. The government also needs to spend more on needle exchange and clean syringe programs to combat the infectious diseases that are associated with sharing needles.
TREAT, DONâT ARREST Nearly 300 law enforcement agencies in 31 states now participate in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, which offers treatment for drug users who ask the authorities for help, an approach inspired by a program established in Gloucester, Mass. Officers work the phones to get addicts into treatment and recovery networks, in an effort that costs less and promises more lasting results than repeatedly arresting them.
FUND TREATMENT Repealing Obamacare would eliminate Medicaid-funded treatment for thousands of addicts. Republicans need to stop trying to kill the legislation and instead urge more states to adopt its Medicaid expansion, which has helped save lives in the states worst affected by the opioid crisis.
COMBAT STIGMA Misunderstanding of opioid addiction shrouds nearly every effort to reduce its toll. To help Americans â and even some physicians â appreciate the crisis, Dr. Kelly Clark, addiction psychiatrist and president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, is calling for an effort like that used by the federal Centers for…