There is no denying that the nation is facing a serious challenge as it struggles to cope with the growing opioid addiction epidemic. As the news tells us almost daily, the opioid crisis has touched virtually every community in Colorado and across the country. When it comes to opioid overdoses and saving lives, time is a critical factor in many situations. Traditionally, law enforcement officers would have to wait for paramedics to arrive in order to treat an overdose.
However, significant upticks in the number of people experiencing an overdose – especially while driving – have made some law enforcement agencies take a new approach. According to a recent article from Colorado Public Radio, many law enforcement agencies are equipping officers with naloxone. The hope is that, as those often responding to an incident involving an overdose first, these officers can help save lives by using naloxone to counteract the effect of an opioid overdose.
Law enforcement officers are required to undergo a lot of specialized training in order to do their job as safely and effectively as possible. This new approach to combatting the effects of the opioid crisis sees law enforcement officials trained in how to recognize an overdose and how to respond quickly and appropriately.
Part of that training involves equipping officers with naloxone, often referred to as Narcan. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, Naloxone is the standard substance used in treating an opioid overdose. The medication can be administered through injection or as a nasal spray and works quickly to reverse the effects of overdose. During an overdose, breathing can slow or even stop. When administered, Naloxone basically swats opioids away from receptors in the brain so that the body can adjust its systems and return to normal. This can get oxygen back into the lungs and consequently the blood, helping to revive an individual who has overdosed.
An Officer’s Role
Once specialized training is complete, officers are equipped with this life-saving drug. In many circumstances, officers are the first to respond to incidents involving overdoses.
However, this does not always happen because of 911-related calls regarding an overdose. As countless videos have shown, many individuals do not experience the effect of an overdose until they have gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle. Some instances have seen individuals struggling with an overdose driving erratically. Others occur when police come across an individual passed out in an automobile in a parking lot or on the side of the road. Whatever the circumstances that have led to police involvement, those equipped with Naloxone and the knowledge of how to use it can often make the difference between life and death while waiting for experienced medical assistance to arrive.
Securing Legal Assistance
The opioid epidemic is real. It not only threatens the lives of individuals struggling with addiction, but also the lives of other citizens when individuals make the mistake of driving while under the influence of drugs. Police officers may play an increasingly important role in helping to save lives as the nation works to combat this epidemic, but the challenges a person faces after driving under the influence do not stop once they have received medical assistance. There are a number of drug-related charges that may be issued in conjunction with the administration of Naloxone, not the least of which being a charge for driving under the influence of drugs if the incident took place while operating a vehicle.
The consequences of conviction for these charges can be severe. The opioid epidemic has made the stakes high for everyone in the nation trying to overcome the obstacles it creates, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can be an important part of your approach to handling legal issues that could be related to addiction. An advocate who understands just how much is on the line when it comes to these charges can help. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm if you are facing charges for driving under the influence of drugs or other drug-related charges to begin exploring the option available to you.
(image courtesy of Osman Rana)