Maine Will Expand Access to Overdose Drug After All

Overdose Drug | Just Believe Recovery PA

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Maine Will Expand Access to Overdose Drug After All

On Friday, April 29th, the Maine legislature overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto, thus making the opioid-reversal overdose drug more widely available through pharmacies. The Maine House voted 132-14, while the Senate voted 29-5 to override.

Maine reported at least 272 drug overdose deaths in 2015, up 31% from the year before.

The new law, which is similar in policy to more than 26 U.S. states, will now allow pharmacists to provide the overdose drug to eligible persons – namely, those who are family or friends of known drug users.

Narcan (naloxone) functions to reverse overdose symptoms by replacing opioids on their corresponding receptors in the brain. This effectively halts the process which may result in a fatally depressed central nervous system.

Nationwide, public health officials and first responders are endorsing and utilizing the drug as a useful tool in the fight against the increasing heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. It is believed to have been used on the artist Prince following a near-fatal opioid overdose just one week prior to his death.

However, LePage has expressed reservations about use of the drug, stating concern that it is a safety net which will encourage addicts to continue using. Earlier in April, he vetoed legislation, stating the following:

“Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.”

However, most experts wholeheartedly disagree with LePage, arguing that it is not an enabling drug, and without access, more lives will be lost.

Hilary Jacobs, Lahey Health Behavioral Services (Massachusetts):

“The idea behind Narcan is you need to live another day in order to get yourself into recovery. Death is not an appropriate consequence for having a disease.”

And indeed, a disease that has been fueled by pharmaceutical companies under allowances of the government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June, 2015, that there was a 187% increase in the number of naloxone overdose drug kits provided to every day people between 2010-2014. Organizations who provided kits reported over 26,000 effective reversals between 1996-2014.

While the drug has been a long-time go-t tool for first responders, putting it in the hands of people who first witness an overdose can save additional lives. And countless laypersons have proven that they are capable of successfully administering the drug without complications.

James Madara, American Medical Association to Maine House Speaker Mark Eves:

“Nearly every state in the nation has moved to increase access to naloxone in these ways because they have recognized—not only the importance of increasing naloxone access—but the science that shows that increasing access to naloxone saves lives.”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Related: The Death of Prince: Most LIkely an Overdose

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