What is the Overdose Solution?

By Annie Highwater 10/05/17

In recent months there has been much heated debate concerning whether or not to save someone from an overdose with Narcan after multiple incidents, or whether there should be a “three strikes” rule put in place.

The three strikes rule would mean that after three overdoses, people will not receive treatment with the life-saving drug. Imagine for a moment, that happening with a cancer patient, a child with a peanut allergy, or a diabetic in a coma or any other chronic relapsing progressive disease.

The Solution Is Treatment Not Negligence

The reality is that if better treatment were more readily available, many of these people wouldn’t be repeat overdosing. Because there is limited bed availability and a short supply of affordable detox facilities, it leaves those suffering in the grips of heroin, opiates and other substances with their easiest option; to continue in use until they can be treated by medical professionals.

Relapse Is A Factor

Many also experience overdose soon after leaving a treatment facility, due to short term stay, when they were vitally in need of effective, longer term care. Increasing awareness about these issues can affect healthy change versus limiting the amount of chances for survival.

Understanding The Core Issue

We need to understand what is going on within this epidemic to bring about change that will affect the crisis level overdose numbers we are all seeing. Not giving Narcan in the long run overall would be far less effective than working together toward available, affordable, good treatment for mental health and addiction issues.

Where Does Addiction Start

It’s worth considering that a vast majority of the people needing revived are former athletes. Some are men and women who went overseas to serve our country and returned with a traumatic injury, again leading to prescribed narcotics, which snowballed into an opiate or heroin addiction. And yes, there are those who developed a dependency when addiction kicked in after experimenting with drugs or alcohol. However, at some point, can we realize that regardless what opened the door for to dependency, as a society we are here, right now dealing with a raging epidemic that drastically needs attention. Why are we trying to figure out what to blame the fire on while we're standing in a burning house?

Who Should We Save

Are we going to trace every struggling person’s story back to the origin of addiction in order to verify if it’s righteous enough to merit empathy and compassion? And then save their life? While one may have fallen into the grip of substance abuse more innocently than another, who gets to decide which life is worth more than another?

The details may vary, the dynamics do not; every person who overdoses is someone’s son or daughter who needs (and deserves) compassion and quality, professional treatment.

Perhaps instead of debating who deserves however many chances to live, we should look into understanding the issue and consider funding and providing more readily available treatment.

Behind every overdose, there is a son or a daughter with a very human story. With information, understanding and compassion, we can make progress.

Written by Annie Highwater, Recovery Blogger and Author of "Unhooked"