Harm Reduction: Drug Czar's Office Opposes Letting Heroin Users Have Easy Access to Overdose Antidote

8/4/06

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/447/drug_czar_on_philadelphia_heroin_overdoses.shtml

When heroin users around Philadelphia started overdosing on junk laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, a local harm reduction group began working with a sympathetic physician to provide addicts prescriptions to naloxone (brand name Narcan). The Office of National Drug Control Policy thinks that's a bad idea.

In many cities, paramedics carry Narcan with them, but by the time they arrive on the scene, it can be too late, explained Casey Cook, executive director of Prevention Point Philadelphia, the group that runs the city's needle exchange program. "If people have to rely on paramedics, more often than not, the overdose is going to be fatal, just because of the amount of time for people to get there," she told the Associated Press in an interview last Friday.

But the drug czar's office is worried that providing addicts with the means to survive an overdose would prove "disinhibiting," much the same way social conservatives argue that providing teenagers with condoms to prevent pregnancy and disease "disinhibits" them from remaining abstinent. ONDCP doesn't want to appear to condone drug use. "We don't want to send the message out that there is a safe way to use heroin," said Jennifer DeVallance, an ONDCP spokesperson told the AP.

There were some 16,000 drug-related deaths reported in 2002, the vast majority of them involving either heroin or prescription opiates, and at least 400 people have died in the wave of fentanyl-related heroin ODs in the past few months. Better they should die than people think heroin is safe, huh?

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Issue #447 -- 8/4/06

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Editorial: Sometimes They Tell the Truth | Feature: British Parliamentary Committee Slams Drug Classification Scheme, Calls for Evidence-Based System | Feature: As Fighting Flares in Southern Afghanistan, Support for Licensed Opium Production Grows | In Memoriam: Methadone Pioneer Vincent P. Dole | Announcement: Sick Editor = Short Issue | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Harm Reduction: Drug Czar's Office Opposes Letting Heroin Users Have Easy Access to Overdose Antidote | Marijuana: Seattle Hempfest Sues City, Art Museum Over Permitting, Access | Latin America: New Report Says Colombian Cocaine Production Seriously Underestimated | Web Scan | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar |

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