Faced with a rising number
of overdose deaths, officials in Portland, Maine, are moving forward with
plans to increase the availability of Naloxone, a drug administered to
overdosing heroin users. According to a report in the Portland Press
Herald, police, fire and public health officials met on July 17 to find
ways to blunt the increase in overdose deaths, which rose from 16 in 2001
to 20 so far this year.
Local officials plan to offer
naloxone to addicts who participate in the city's India Street Clinic needle
exchange program, the newspaper reported. Under the plan, participants
would have to undergo training in how to properly administer the drug,
then they would be provided with a kit that includes a dose of naloxone,
latex gloves and alcohol wipes. Drug users would also be encouraged
to call 911 to report overdoses, because naloxone's opiate-blocking effects
are only temporary. The local police chief has said he will not "subvert
criminal investigations" if confronted by an overdose, but would take all
factors into account because "after all, we're trying to save lives."
The plan will also extend
Naloxone availability to all 52 of the city's ambulances and fire trucks.
Currently, only 30 paramedics are authorized to stock the anti-overdose
drug, but city officials are working to win state approval for Emergency
Medical Technicians (EMTs) as well as paramedics to administer the drug.
Citing efforts in Chicago,
San Francisco, New Mexico, Germany and Australia, Portland officials embraced
harm reduction principles in dealing with the rising death toll.
"We're focusing on the problem as a public health issue rather than a criminal
issue," Portland Director of Health and Human Services Gerald Cayer told
the Press Herald. "Our short-term goal is to reduce mortality.
Our long-term goal is to reduce opiate use."
Portland officials said they
hope to have the program in place by September.
-- END --
Issue #247, 7/26/02
Editorial: Silliness on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board | State Supreme Court Upholds California's Proposition 215, San Francisco Prepares to Grow Own Medical Marijuana Supply | British Decrim Move Inspires US Editorialists | Transnational Radical Party Takes Aim at Russian Drug Laws | Capitol Hill Press Conference Calls for States' Rights to Medical Marijuana | Libertarian Party Plans Offensive Against Drug Warriors | Newsbrief: Dutch Cannabis Café Chains Vow to Invade Britain | Newsbrief: Cancer Pain Inadequately Treated, Says NIH | Newsbrief: Democratic Presidential Candidate Plays Crime Card -- Calls for Parole End, More Drug Testing for Probationers | Newsbrief: Narcocorridos Banned in Baja California | Newsbrief: Kenyan Students Riot Over Deadly Marijuana Bust | Newsbrief: Portland, Maine, Moving to Provide Anti-Overdose Drug to Addicts, EMTs | Newsbrief: Coked-Out Judge Busted | Newsbrief: Budget Crisis Kills Connecticut Drug Courts | Newsbrief: Bad Week for Marijuana Police -- Two Dead, One Injured in Accidents | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | Addictions Discrimination Panel Seeking Testimony | Addendum: Jeff and Tracy | The Reformer's Calendar
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