Here’s something that makes me homicidal. When someone takes too big of a dose of an opioid (like heroin), they can stop breathing. Eventually, their heart will stop and they will die. The reason this happens is complicated, but it has to do with receptors in the brain that shut down respiration. There is a drug named Naloxone (commonly called “Narcan”) that lifts the opioids off the receptors and restores normal breathing. It works very quickly, and can remove symptoms of overdose within minutes. Other than forced respiration, there really is no other way to save the life of someone who has overdosed on an opioid. Every EMT should be equipped with Narcan because it is a lifesaver, and because opioid overdoses are an increasingly routine problem that EMT crews face on a near-daily basis. But Maine Governor Paul LePage thinks that making Narcan more widely available will just encourage people to use opioids without fear of consequence.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) appears set to oppose a bill increasing access to a lifesaving anti-overdose medication because of concerns rejected by public health experts that it could encourage more drug abuse, according to the bill’s chief sponsor.
Fatal heroin overdoses in Maine quadrupled from 2011 to 2012. Naloxone is a drug that can reverse overdoses from heroin and other opioids like morphine. State Rep. Sara Gideon (D) is sponsoring legislation that would place the drug, which is sold under the trade name Narcan, in the hands of police, firefighters, at-risk users and their families.
Gideon said that ahead of a scheduled Wednesday hearing, the governor’s chief health policy adviser, Holly Lusk, told her LePage would oppose the bill in its entirety.
“His main objection is his belief — and I have to emphasize ‘his belief’ because there is no evidence that supports this at all — his belief that increasing the availability of Narcan or naloxone will lead the drug user or drug abuser to have this feeling of invincibility,” Gideon said.
The idea that an opioid addict has anything approximating “agency” is ridiculous. They long-ago lost the ability to make rational decisions about their health or even what constitutes basic morality. While many overdoses are intentional or semi-intentional and result from the simple despair the addict feels about their inability to stop using and stealing and injuring their loved ones, most overdoses are accidents. In either case, it is not the governor’s job to issue a death sentence. Addicts do sometimes get clean and go on to live productive lives, but they can’t have that chance if they die because no one had a dose of Narcan handy. Opioid addicts do not feel invincible. Whatever is the precise opposite of invincibility is what opioid addicts feel. Helpless. Doomed. Fucked. Lost. A living corpse.
I don’t care if you’re a housewife who got addicted to painkillers after a bout of tonsillitis or some punk kid who didn’t realize that the vicodins he was taking on the weekends would turn them into an intravenous heroin junkie within a year, you don’t deserve to die just to satisfy the governor of Maine’s warped ideology.