Police officers in Pennsylvania have saved more than 2,000 people who overdosed on opioid drugs since they began carrying naloxone in late 2014 in response to the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses. Naloxone, which comes in injectable and nose spay versions, can reverse an opioid overdose.
“Last year more than 3,500 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose, so it is critical to have naloxone in the hands of our police and first responders who may be first on the scene of an overdose,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a news release.
Most of the overdoses are the result of heroin or prescription painkillers. Wolf said every Pennsylvania State Police patrol care is now equipped with naloxone, as are 574 local police departments. Another 87 plan on carrying it soon, Wolf said.
Some police officers and other first responders have expressed frustration at seeing overdose victims return to using, including some who have been revived with naloxone more than once.
But others say the first treating the addicts is to save them, even through many opioid addicts relapse before attaining lasting recovery.
Now, one of the state’s many main focuses is to expand access to treatment so that overdose victims and others who want treatment can immediately be connected to treatment, and also to provide long-term support to help them stay clean and rebuild their lives.