Harm Reduction: Overdose Prevention Bill Introduced, Study Released

In response to a rapid increase in the number of drug overdose fatalities -- doubling from 11,000 in 1999 to 22,000 in 2005 -- US Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) Wednesday introduced the Drug Overdose Reduction Act, which would allocate $27 million a year to cities, states, tribal governments, and nonprofits to implement overdose reduction strategies. Accidental drug overdoses are now the second leading cause of accidental deaths, second only to auto accidents.

Edwards introduced the bill in conjunction with a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance, Preventing Overdose, Saving Lives: Strategies for Combating a National Crisis, which lays out a number of ways in which the overdose toll can be reduced:

  1. Enhance overdose prevention education.
  2. Improve monitoring, research, outreach and coordination to build awareness of the overdose crisis, its ramifications and public health approaches to reducing it.
  3. Remove barriers to naloxone (Narcan) access.
  4. Promote 911 Good Samaritan immunity law reform.
  5. Establish trial supervised injection facilities.

"We've got the science, we've got the technology and the medicine to do this," said Dr. Donald Kurth, head of the American Society of Addiction Medicine during a Wednesday conference call. Yet despite a national overdose death toll "like a jumbo jetliner crashing every three days," the US "as a nation hasn't had the political will to let physicians use what's already available."

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Malkavian's picture

There's more

The list contains a lot of good stuff. I'd add some very recent findings from Portugal:

- decriminalize all drugs for personal use

The way the portuguese have done it has halved the number of heroin related deaths. This is probably because they've more than doubled the number of people on substitution treatment. They've accomplished this because they removed the greatest barrier of them all to enter treatment: no criminalization what so ever!

Now, if a person is caught with a drug he gets a citation and has to appear before a "dissuation board" where some perfectly normally dressed bunch of people decide what to do - like offer treatment if they deem the person to be addicted. Almost never does any of this result in negative repercssions.

Injection facilities are excellent, but they can be implemented in a number of ways. One of the more important parameters is the drug itself. Some of these facilities, like those in Norway for example, only allow street drugs to be injected at the facilities whereas the users in other places are often given a farmaceutical grade product that's 100% pure and measured.

... if for some strange reason the folks out there don't want to, well, legalize it all and start regulating instead ;)

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