It has been stated recently that heroin use is escalating in the Twin Cities. Now the Hennepin County Sheriff is calling for officers to carry a Heroin antidote.
In addition to the Hennepin County Sheriff, Senator Chris Eaton is also calling for law enforcement officers to carry the antidote, which can save the life of someone who is overdosing on heroin.
Eaton lost her daughter in 2007 when she died of an overdose while sitting in a car that was parked in a parking lot in Brooklyn Center.
The drug, called Narcan, is carried by law enforcement in 16 other states so that officers can administer the drug to those overdosing on heroin. The drug can be used as a nasal spray or it can be injected.
In Eaton’s daughter’s case, the first responders were police and they did not carry Narcan. She said it was approximately 40 minutes before her daughter received it. By that point, it was too late because the heroin had taken its toll on her body.
When the drug is administered, it stops the effects of the overdose. In a Massachusetts community, police have carried the drug for a while and it is credited with saving nearly 200 lives in a three year period.
This proposal for officers to carry Narcan has gained strong support from the Hennepin County Sheriff because he says it will save lives. He has also cited the numbers showing the sharp increase in heroin use in the Twin cities.
In Hennepin County alone, the number of overdose deaths has increased sharply. In 2010, there were just 8 deaths. So far in 2013, there have been 48. The sheriff disputes claims that officers carrying Narcan would encourage heavier usage of heroin.
The drug is not very expensive at just around $20 per dose.
Eaton has wondered often if her daughter could have been saved if the officer who first arrived on the scene had carried Narcan. The senator says that she will introduce the bill during the next legislative session, which will start in February.
Part of the bill also gives partial amnesty to an individual who calls 911 to report an overdose. Many times, individuals who are around a person who is overdosing on heroin will hesitate to make the call because they do not want to face drug charges. They will try to take care of the issue themselves and, many times, this can have deadly consequences for the person who has overdosed. In other cases, someone will make the call and leave the overdose victim alone so they are not there when authorities arrive.
The Hennepin County Sheriff says that the sharp increase in heroin usage is because more people are having difficulty getting prescription drugs to abuse, so they turn to heroin. He also says that the heroin that is sold in the Twin Cities is pure and strong, so the quality of the high that users get is much better than with other strains of heroin.