“I didn’t know about naloxone. At the time, we couldn’t carry it in our homes, and I lived in fear on every day. If you
have asthma, you take an asthma inhaler. If you have an allergy, you carry an EpiPen. People around you know how to do it. Naloxone should be the same way.”
~Shawn Norton, head of the La Mesa chapter of GRASP—Grief After Substance Passing
In July, 2014, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department became the first law enforcement agency in California to carry naloxone, the life-saving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.
At the time, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said, “Our goal is to save lives. Overdoses from opiate-based prescription and illicit drugs, like Oxycodone and heroin, have taken the lives of children and adults alike in San Diego County…Once the immediate danger passes, there can be a path to recovery which will hopefully break the cycle of drug addiction.”
If the goal was to save lives, then the expansion of the availability of naloxone has been a resounding success:
- In 2012, paramedics in San Diego administered naloxone 353 times.
- In 2015, it was used 1340 times.
- By late November 2016, it had already been used 1123 times.
In November 2016, San Diego hosted the 11th Annual International Harm Reduction Conference, where training was offered to non-first responders on how to obtain and use naloxone. In California, a bill passed in 2015 that allows people to buy the antidote from participating pharmacies. Customers who purchase naloxone in-store are required to undergo brief training on how to properly use it.
The use of heroin and other opioids is a big problem in Southern California, including in San Diego County. For example, 51% of San Diego arrestees who use opiates have overdosed in the past, compared to just 13% of arrestees who don’t use opiates.
If you or a family member are abusing heroin, prescription painkillers, or any other opioid, help is available at Lasting Recovery outpatient rehab in San Diego. Lasting Recovery is a nationally-accredited program that offers evidence-based services to substance abusers and their families.