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article imageU.S. in grip of 'urgent health crisis'

By Karen Graham     Mar 10, 2014 in Health
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for greater law enforcement training, as well as access to Naloxone, an overdose-reversal medication used to treat the effects of a heroin overdose, in what he is now calling an "urgent public health crisis."
Holder's campaign is similar to the call the White House made last month, pushing for more training of law enforcement personnel in the use of Naloxone, an overdose-reversal medication, as well as a request for easier access to the life-saving drug.
Naloxone has been around since the 1960s as a drug used to counteract the effects of opiate overdose. The medication specifically counteracts severe depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system usually associated with this kind of overdose. It is marketed under several trademarks, including Narcan, Nalone, and Narcanti.
The spike in heroin overdoses, trafficking in heroin and the abuse of prescription narcotics are all seen as the "root" of the current health crisis now going on in the U.S. today said Holder on a video press release posted Monday on the Justice Department website.
"Addiction to heroin and other opiates - including certain prescription pain-killers - is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life - and all too often, with deadly results. The transition to and increase in heroin abuse is a sad, but not unpredictable symptom of the significant increase in prescription drug abuse we've seen over the past decade,'' Holder said.
Between 2006 and 2010, heroin overdoses rose 45 percent in the U.S. During about the same time-period, between 2008 and 2013, heroin seizures along the southwestern border of the U.S. and Mexico rose 320 percent.
“It’s clear that opiate addiction is an urgent — and growing — public health crisis,” Holder said. “And that’s why Justice Department officials, including the [Drug Enforcement Administration] ... are fighting back aggressively."
According to the Attorney general, 17 states and the District of Columbia have amended their laws to make it easier to get Naloxone. Naloxone is included in emergency-response kits distributed to heroin and other opiate users. The CDC estimates that programs that include the emergency treatment packs have saved about 10,000 lives since 2001.
While it has been proven that Naloxone can save lives, overdose interventions are limited because of negative public attitudes to its use, insufficient knowledge on how to use Naloxone properly, and a rather sluggish attitude by the federal government in implementing a drug take-home project in all the states. This very thing is what the attorney general would like to see, in combating what appears to be a devastating health crisis going on now.
More about Heroin, Overdoses, us attorney general eric holder, Naloxone, public health crisis
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