It’s a modern world. And with it, come problems. Drug problems, to be exact. According to an article on medicaldaily.com, during 2014, 6.5 million Americans misused a prescription drug as estimated by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
And misuse isn’t the only thing that’s happening. In 2010, the World Health Organization estimated that more Americans died from an overdose of prescription opioids than from an overdose of heroin-16, 651 people to be exact. And use is on the rise.
What gives? It seems like a good idea to ask WHY so many people have a bad relationship with prescription and illegal drugs, but that’s a hard question to answer.
For the moment then maybe a better question is, who is doing something to help? The answer is, Walgreens, at least on the surface.
This week the mega drug store announced they will be installing medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 drugstores in 39 states and Washington, D.C.
This is being done to make it easier for people to get rid of old, unused medication and clean out medicine chests in a safe way. And so all those extra prescription painkillers that are wreaking havoc across the nation will now have a good place to go.
Grand! Bring the drugs back to the location you got it from. Good idea. So that’s a first step. And the second step is even bigger. Walgreens is now also selling the antidote to a heroin or pain medication overdose, and in some places, without a prescription. That’s right-you can walk right in and buy it.
Is selling opioid antidotes the right thing to do? Well, here are some sobering facts. In addition to the statistics above, deaths caused by heroin in the U.S exceeded 10,500 in 2014 and 44 people in the United States die from an overdose of prescription painkillers each day, with many more becoming addicted.
An overdose of opioids, which is what heroin and popular pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Kadian, Avinza are, causes problems with breathing and unconsciousness. Acccording to medicaldaily.com, most fatal overdoses happen because a person has combined an opioid with alcohol or a sedative.
And so, if someone was in such a situation and had the antidote to their troubles, they could technically be saved.
How does it work? The antidote to opioids is called naloxone, or Narcan and it reverses the effect of an overdose. It comes as an injection or a nasal spray and only has an effect on the body if opioids are present, but has no effect if they aren’t.
Whether selling the antidote to something being badly used will reduce the overall problem, or simply encourage more use of the opioids themselves remains to be seen, but saving lives always sounds like a good idea to me.
Thank you, Walgreens, for trying to help.
Naloxone is currently being sold over the counter at Walgreens pharmacies throughout the state of New York and later this month it will be introduced, prescription-free, in Indiana and Ohio.
Click here to see if the antidote will become available in your state.
Substance abuse problems? Get help at 1-800-662-HELP.