The overdose-antidote drug naloxone is gaining popularity throughout the state, with more than 50 police departments regularly carrying the drug. But addicts don’t always get the help they need after an overdose intervention.
First responders were first allowed to carry the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone after lawmakers approved the practice in 2014. Earlier this year, the state health department issued a standing order so anyone can get naloxone without a doctor’s prescription.
But according to IUPUI Professor of Criminal Justice Brad Ray, after the naloxone is administered and a life is saved, addicts need more intervention.
“Most people that are going to overdose are going to overdose a couple of times before they turn their life around,” Ray says.
Ray says one of the most effective ways to assist this transition is through jail programs.
This is where we could see it as an intervention point to really reduce the number of deaths in the state.
“We could be reaching out for treatment at our jails,” he says. “This is where we could be delivering- handing out [naloxone], this is where we could see it as an intervention point to really reduce the number of deaths in the state.”
A study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that only 11 percent of addicted inmates receive any treatment for their opioid addiction.
And some police departments don’t arrest addicts after reversing an opioid overdose, meaning they don’t have access to these jail programs.
Bloomington police officer Brad Seifers says as a result, they aren’t dealing with the majority of the area’s addicts.
“When we talk about enforcement of the drug laws we’re really looking for those dealers as opposed to the users themselves,” Seifers says.
According to Ray, one third of naloxone administrations by police in Marion County in recent years were given to someone who had overdosed before.