Thursday, October 6, 2016

Overdose Deaths Saving Lives

When taking a close look at the American opioid epidemic, it can be hard to not feel heartache. Millions of people across the country are caught in the grips of addiction, and those who fail to receive treatment are at an ever increasing risk of overdose and potential death with each day that passes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that as many as 78 Americans die from an overdose daily. While there are tools available, such as naloxone, which can reverse the deadly symptoms of an opioid overdose, the lifesaving drug is not always available.

Even when naloxone is on hand at the scene of an overdose, if other drugs such a fentanyl or benzodiazepine sedatives are part of the equation, naloxone may not save an overdose victim’s life. Countless families across the country have lost loved ones to the insidious epidemic tearing through the American heartland, especially in New England and some of the most rural parts of the United States. There are no words that could assuage the pain that families of overdose death victims are experiencing.

It is often said that if there is a silver lining to be found with regard to the epidemic, it would probably have to be the fact that the heavy death toll has the entire nation taking a close hard look at addiction. People are finally realizing that the disease does not merely affect the downtrodden or ethnic minorities, but rather, addiction has the propensity to shine upon us all. This epidemic could not paint that picture any clearer, as young white Americans are dying in the greatest numbers. And it is highly likely that before you finish reading this post, another young American will have succumbed to the disease of addiction.

Another silver lining, perhaps, can be found by way of organ transplants. With young people dying from overdoses in scores, it has created a surge in available, healthy organs, The New York Times reports. The New England Organ Bank points out that 69 New Englanders who passed away from an overdose donated their organs so far this year.

“It’s an unexpected silver lining to what is otherwise a pretty horrendous situation,” said Alexandra K. Glazier, chief executive of the New England Organ Bank, which procures organs for transplant in the six New England states and Bermuda.

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