NEW: Rhode Island Has 38 Drug Overdose Deaths So Far in 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
Members of the Department of Health, Department of Behavioral Healthcare, and the state police gathered to deliver a joint message, detailing the state’s plans to combat heroin and fentanyl addiction in Rhode Island. These plans most notably include overdose education and prevention measures, such as the ability for police officers and healthcare providers to be educated and have the ability to carry opioid antagonist drugs, something that can help prevent an overdose.
“Last week, our department issued emergency regulations, which is only for the second time in the history of our department that we’ve used these emergency regulation situations,” said Craig S. Stenning, the director of the Department of Behavior Healthcare. “[These regulations] require that all substance abuse and mental health treatment agencies in Rhode Island have their staff be educated around overdoses and the use of Naloxone and then to provide that education to all of their patients.”
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is an opiod antagonist drug, used to help prevent opioid overdoses by counteracting respiratory depression and other problems associated with drug overdoses.
Ways to Combat Opioid Use in Rhode Island
Stenning highlighted that there are three current tools in place to help cut down on opioid related deaths throughout the state, more than any other state in New England. These tools include the Good Samaritan Law, access to expanded treatment, and the use of Naxolone.
Also announced at the press conference was a partnership between the State Police department and Walgreens so that the entire State Police force can be trained to administer and educate others about Naxolone. The training is scheduled to take place within the next couple weeks.
“We are announcing today that every member of the state police will be trained in the use of Naxolone,” said Col. Steven O’Donnell of the Rhode Island State Police. “We will work with the Department of Health… and we will also work with Walgreens which is a partner of the R.I. State Police. [Walgreens] have agreed to give [Naxolone] to every one of our troopers and to give it to every one of our officers under my command.”
The second warning issued in the past month comes on the heels of statistics showing that 11 overdose deaths have been recorded from the period of January 30th to February 12th. Although this number is staggering, it pales in comparison to the announcement of 23 deaths at the first press conference from a period on January 1st to January 15th.
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