Douglas Darby, my best friend and co-founder of Rise Together, and me recently flew out to Boston to attend Community Catalyst’s Preventing Youth Addiction Learning Tour, which I can’t wait to tell you more about in the next article. Upon our return, we were invited by Wisconsin State Representative, John Nygren, and Governor Scott Walker to attend the Hope Agenda bill signing which is a great effort to combat the heroin and opiate epidemic we are facing in Wisconsin. I believe it is crucial to share this information with you because ultimately, in the end, I believe this conversation is one that will help save lives during such a great time of need.
Drug overdose deaths, driven largely by prescription drug overdoses, are now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. – surpassing motor vehicle crashes and even gun homicides. Curving this public health issue is a top priority, not only here in Wisconsin, but all across the nation.
Attending last week’s bill signing is a prime example of that priority taking place. This new law, who is sponsored by Rep. Nygren, expands access to the lifesaving antagonists like Narcan, also known as naloxone, by offering the drug for purchase from Wisconsin pharmacies without a prescription. By no means is this the end-all to this drug epidemic but it is part of the solution. Even though, there is talk about whether or not the use of Narcan will encourage users to increase the amount of opioids being consumed without worry of overdose, at this point it’s all about saving lives; period.
Narcan ultimately helps stop effects of an overdose for a period of time. That time may be enough to get the person who is suffering to the proper amount of care they need. This also offers a great opportunity to refer that person to treatment and show support for long-term recovery. This not only helps to save that person who is experiencing a potentially fatal overdose but also helps support the families that could have ultimately suffered from losing their loved one to their addiction. So in essence this law is not only helping to support the thousands upon thousands of people suffering with this disease but also the millions that are being impacted by addiction.
Helping to pass life-saving reforms like 911 Good Samaritan laws and over the counter access to naloxone is a highly effective approach to curving this public health concern. Please, take some time to contact your local representatives and ask them what they are doing to support this effort – to save lives. Let your voice be heard!