Naloxone has been hailed as a modern day miracle, attaching itself to brain receptors, halting heroin and prescription opioid overdoses in their tracks. Thankfully, it is proving to live up to the hype with over 93% of people receiving this life-saving drug surviving their overdose. Unfortunately, as their tolerance grows, people are using heroin and stronger substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil, which are considerably cheaper. First responders now frequently need to administer multiple doses just to revive someone. More disturbingly, a study out of Brigham Women’s Hospital found that more than 15% of people who survive an overdose are dead within a year.
In response to these sobering statistics, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considering a mandatory 72 hour rehab for anyone revived from an overdose. While this proposed legislation is well-intentioned, there are nonetheless several impediments to its implementation: (1) Who is going to pay the significant bill associated with treating all of these people? (2) 72 hours is not nearly enough time to have any real impact on the life of an addict, and (3) First responders and medical professionals will be put in precarious and dangerous situations while trying to commit people against their will. We certainly needs solutions and Massachusetts’s desire to do something is commendable, but we need something more comprehensive, more national and more well thought out, if we are going to have a lasting impact against addiction.