Today, the leading cause of accidental death is overdose, surpassing automobile accidents. The overdose death rates will continue to climb unless communities come together with law enforcement to share the burden of stopping this trend. The criminal activity associated with prescription drugs absorbs a great deal of law enforcement manpower. Communities that have increased education and awareness about the signs and symptoms of prescription drug problems can assist police through tip lines and 911 calls when citizens are informed. Criminal efforts to divert and sell narcotics can be stifled by storing medications correctly and disposing of them properly.
Pilot studies from police departments around the nation have proven that trained law enforcement personnel who carry the opioid antidote naloxone can also save lives in conjunction with civilians armed with naloxone. In the city of Quincy, Massachusetts, the local police department has saved 188 lives with naloxone since 2010, as of October 2013. Also in Massachusetts, the Weymouth fire department implemented a naloxone program and has since saved 32 lives with the antidote. Not only are local police and fire departments taking action to save lives in their community, but civilians have enrolled in naloxone distribution programs and saved 2,100 lives in Massachusetts, reports the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
As seen in Massachusetts, when law enforcement personnel implement a naloxone program, become trained to respond to an overdose, and administer naloxone the benefits are widespread throughout the community.
Grants for Drug Diversion Officers
The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators has grant funding for hiring new law enforcement officers.
Applicants may be selected for work completed on a single case or on the basis of overall work completed over a period of time. Consideration will be given to all law enforcement efforts involving drug diversion that includes both plainclothes and uniform personnel. Although cases need not be resolved in court, the investigation should be completed, and all suspects arrested or under indictment. In order for an investigation to be eligible, it must have been completed within 18 months of the application date.
NADDI requires that each LE Grant recipient provide written documentation setting forth how the grant funds were expended (within 120 days of the grant receipt).
NADDI shall not provide funds to any entity until NADDI has received adequate documentation from the requesting law enforcement entity including a Grant Request Letter which includes
a statement describing the experience and training of the law enforcement entity's officers in handling cases involving abuse and diversion of prescription products, and
the entity's need for the requested grant.
The requesting law enforcement entity must also certify that receipt of the requested grant does not violate any local, state or federal law, regulation, statute, ordinance or ethical policies.
To learn more about how to implement a naloxone program, please click below to download the Law Enforcement packet.
Also, check out the initiative set forth in Pitt County, NC by the Pitt County Sheriff's Office. Produced by Pitt County Office of Public Information.
Legal considerations should not prevent anyone from prescribing naloxone. Excellent resources are available for the legal community and medical providers to feel comfortable with prescribing naloxone for overdose prevention. Also, the North Carolina Medical Board has endorsed Project Lazarus, including the prescribing of naloxone to prevent opioid overdoses:
"The Board is concerned about the three-fold rise in overdose deaths over the past decade in the State of North Carolina as a result of both prescription and non-prescription drugs. The Board has reviewed, and is encouraged by, the efforts of Project Lazarus, a pilot program in Wilkes County that is attempting to reduce the number of drug overdoses by making the drug naloxone* and an educational program on its use available to those persons at risk of suffering a drug overdose.
The prevention of drug overdoses is consistent with the Board’s statutory mission to protect the people of North Carolina. The Board therefore encourages its licensees to cooperate with programs like Project Lazarus in their efforts to make naloxone available to persons at risk of suffering opioid drug overdose.
*Naloxone is the antidote used in emergency medical settings to reverse respiratory depression due to opioid toxicity."
Created: Sep 1, 2008
Closing Death's Door: Action Steps to Facilitate Emergency Opioid Drug Overdose Reversal in the United States. Beletsky L, Burris S, Kral A. 2009. Social Science Research Network.
With support from Drug Policy Alliance, the authors convened a summit on opioid overdose in which experts from the field of drug policy, opioid overdose, medicine and public health discussed strategies for preventing avoidable overdose by increasing access to naloxone and important basic overdose education. This White Paper presents the findings from the conference and sets forth recommendations for increasing access to this life saving intervention.
Stopping an Invisible Epidemic: Legal Issues in the Provision of Naloxone to Prevent Opioid Overdose. Burris S, Beletsky L, Castagna C, Coyle C, Crowe C, McLaughlin JM. Drexel Law Review.
This Article comprehensively examines the legal barriers overdose prevention programs must surmount. Part II describes the epidemic and the current interventions. Part III addresses the legal issues that arise in public health programs that provide naloxone to opioid drug users (ODUs).