One of the most alarming statistics of the current decade is the number of deaths from prescription drug overdose. In North Carolina, overdose rates have tripled since 2000 and continue to rank above the national average. Last year we lost over 1,000 lives to preventable death from overdose. It’s insane that no legislator has come forward to propose simple, cost-effective solutions to the epidemic. Overdose rates could easily be slashed through comprehensive overdose prevention legislation at no cost to the state.
With today’s budget crises throughout the nation, it’s important to consider the cost-effectiveness and the regulatory burden of new legislation. But in the case of drug overdose, simple proposals exist that are free and impose no new governmental intrusion. In fact, they take the government out. Access to Narcan is a good example. Narcan, or naloxone, is a safe, effective antidote to opiate drug overdose. Long used by paramedics, it blocks opiate receptors to the brain and can reverse a potentially fatal drug overdose within minutes. Narcan cannot be abused or used to get high, and it is safe to administer even by people with no medical background. But barriers to its access remain.