Just one day after I reported that heroin overdose death rates have skyrocketed in Florida in the face a decline in Flakka supply, the Sun-Sentinel reports that the Delray Beach Police Department is armed with a new weapon to combat the alarming trend: Naloxone.
According to Police Chief Jeff Goldman, who receives three to four notifications of overdoses in his jurisdiction everyday, the decision to arm Delray Beach officers with Naloxone was made when the rate of overdoses and heroin-related deaths unexpectedly skyrocketed. This increase is believed to be a direct consequence of the reduced availability of Flakka throughout South Florida, after China banned the ingredients necessary to make the noxious substance.
Goldman reports that these overdoses are no longer limited to the privacy of homes and bathrooms; calls frequently come into the Delray Beach Police Department reporting cases of overdoses in public areas.
“We’ve had public-view deaths, which I know is very scary to our community,” Goldman said.
Since the beginning of the year, Delray Beach has experienced over 50 overdoses; last year in this same time frame there were only two.
People unfamiliar with Naloxone may wonder how exactly an easy-to-use injection can save lives, but the way the drug works is rather incredible. When a person overdoses on an opioid, the central nervous system is essentially suppressed to the point of life-threatening symptoms such as:
- difficulty breathing
- weak pulse
- low blood pressure
- muscle spasms
- coma or death
How does Naloxone reverse such serious symptoms? By reviving the neuro-transmitters deactivated by the overdose, Naloxone essentially cancels out the opioids in one’s system- the high is gone along with the threat of death, often causing withdrawal symptoms shortly thereafter.
People whose lives have been saved by Naloxone aren’t out of the woods yet, of course; they require medical treatment after the medication is administered because the effects typically wear off within half an hour or so.
Thankfully, all 32 supervisors within the department are trained to use the Naloxone nasal spray kits- 200 of which were supplied through a grant donation. For every overdose call received by the Delray Beach Police Department, at least one of these supervisors will be required to respond.
The important part is that the calls are made.
Too often lives are lost because reports are made at the last minute or not at all by witnesses who are afraid of legal ramifications. Chief Goldman urges people not to let that fear stand in the way of life-saving intervention.
“Don’t worry about cleaning up drugs, don’t worry about setting the scene. You’re protected under the Good Samaritan Law.”
Through partnership with the Delray Beach Drug Task Force, the police department is attempting spread education throughout the communities regarding how to aid in cases of overdoses and the legal protections they have which encourage action. Education regarding the signs and symptoms of overdose are also a vital part to their strategy for preventing further overdose deaths.
Featured Image: “Naloxone” by Intropin. Licensed under CC by 3.o.
Do you think increased availability of Naloxone will save lives in South Florida? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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