The Opioid Epidemic
By Michael Zuazua, High School Intern:
In 2013, 16,235 people died from prescription opioid overdoses. Naloxone, a medication that blocks the effects of most opioids, can save someone’s life in case of an overdose. However, laws in place right now only allow doctors to prescribe the medication to their own patients, not to service providers or anyone else who might be in position to use it. Also, the overwhelming majority of first responders do not carry the vital medication with them or are not trained to use it. To combat this problem, organizations are being created to educate and train people on what to do in case of an opioid overdose. Many people are also pushing for legislation that makes Naloxone more accessible for those who may need to use it. This include family members, service providers, and first responders. Advocates for the cause in Texas pushed for Senate Bill 1462. It allows more people to be prescribed Naloxone and use it. The law also allows first responders to administer Naloxone to anyone who appears to be suffering from an opioid related overdose.
With its passing in June of 2015, Texas joined the majority of States passing legislation to make Naloxone more accessible for people. The Texas Pharmacy Association has also made efforts to decrease the number of fatalities from overdoses on prescribed opioids. As of August 1, 2016 pharmacists will be able to administer Naloxone to anyone who is suffering from an overdose. Pharmacists in most States must now enter any prescription they give out into a national database as part of the Prescription Monitoring Program. The data collected from this program gives prescribers the information they need to prevent opioid abuse. These are just a few steps being taken to decrease the amount of overdoses related deaths. In order to stop overdoses, we must properly inform people the effects of opioids and how to use them safely.