Our Opinion: ‘We cannot get someone into treatment if they’re dead’

When we read that over 6,000 Naloxone kits were handed out for free in one week in Pennsylvania in a recent giveaway, it seemed like a lot.

It seemed like a lot of people were taking advantage of an antidote to opioid overdoses. Naloxone is administered to reverse the effects of opioids in the body, restoring normal breathing in people about to die of an overdose. Over 6,000 kits in one week for people that, what, believe they could overdose from opioids and painkillers?

We get it. It’s controversial. It does nothing to address those who are addicted to painkillers. And it seems like a lot of kits at one time.

Consider this:

“In 2016, there were 2,235 opioid-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Since 2010, opioid-related overdose deaths have increased in all categories. Heroin overdose deaths have increased from 131 to 926 (in 2016); synthetic opioid overdose deaths have increased from 98 to 1,309, and prescription opioid overdose deaths have increased from 411 to 729 deaths.”

Pennsylvania providers write over 80 opioid prescriptions a year for every 100 people.

If you believe this is a get-out-of-jail-free card for an addict, or if this is for someone who mishandles a prescription, the hope is Naloxone will save lives.

“We cannot get someone into treatment if they are dead,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “Naloxone saves lives and we should all carry it because you never know when you will get the chance to help someone. This year alone, emergency medical services have saved more than 9,000 Pennsylvanians using naloxone and transported 92 percent of them to the hospital for treatment.”

It saves lives, as well as opens the discussion.

Should more be done to combat opioid addiction?

Maybe. Possibly. Probably. Yes.

All those answers work. In the meantime, “We cannot get someone into treatment if they are dead.”