Richard Hill: Addressing Opiate Addiction and Overdose In RI
Thursday, October 24, 2013
While we need a comprehensive approach to address our pervasive addiction problem, by learning the symptoms of painkiller/heroin overdose we can save lives right now. These symptoms include: shallow breathing or no breathing at all, abnormal snoring or gurgling sounds (this can mean that a person’s airway is partly blocked), blue lips or fingertips, floppy arms or legs, no response to stimulus, disorientation, and/or unconsciousness.
Since it is rare for someone to die immediately from an overdose, recognizing OD symptoms can increase the likelihood of resuscitation. People with close friends and family members struggling with addiction should keep a supply of Naloxone—a drug which when given can stop an overdose in under a minute—at the ready. Walgreen’s now makes this drug available without a prescription for $11.99 (less with insurance coverage).
There are legal protections in place for people who act to save lives. Rhode Island has recently adopted the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act, exempting from liability any person who administers an opiate antagonist such as Naxolone. If you don’t have the drug available, you should call 911 immediately to ensure emergency assistance.
As a counselor, I can tell you that overdoses are often the wake up call needed for many to seek treatment. While such a preventive measure may seem odd to some, for those who have a loved one or close friend experiencing opiate addiction, that $11.99 purchase may save a life.
Richard Hill is the Executive Director of the Journey to Hope, Health, Healing. To contact Journey to Hope, Health, Healing, call 1 888-312-2033. To learn more, go to www.TheJourneyHHH.com or check them out on Twitter @TheJourneyHHH.
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