Opioid-related overdose deaths are continuing to rise. In fact, you’re now more likely to die from an accidental overdose than in a car accident.
These alarming statistics are causing health officials and policymakers to scramble to find a solution to the growing opioid crisis. But like any reform, there is much division on the best path forward.
The one thing policymakers can agree on is easier access to life-saving overdose treatments. But this can be accomplished in many different ways. Some policymakers want to give free access to Narcan, as the $45 price tag could be prohibitive to those who need it. However, other policymakers argue that providing an “easy out” for addicts would perpetuate addiction.
Christopher Jones, director of the Centre for Substance Abuse Prevention at the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says Narcan access is only part of the solution. Addicts need to be treated holistically and for mental health issues.
Penalties for Drug Use
Another solution is enforcing stricter laws and longer prison sentences for drug possession and use. Some lawmakers believe a harsher sentence will give a greater deterrence to drug use; or, keeping drug users locked away could potentially save other individuals from becoming addicts. Prison time should also include recovery programs.
Regardless of the path forward, we can all agree that drug addicts need a community to support them in staying clean. This requires compassion and accountability. Narcan access or prison sentences should only be the backup plan.
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