My son’s story may resonate with many others who have gone through the same experience. It started with a broken ankle.
He was given opiates for pain alleviation and quickly became addicted to the doctor-prescribed medication. Not long after that, his girlfriend ended up finding him between the couch and the coffee table, unconscious.
My 33-year-old son isn’t here with us today, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about him and what might have been a second chance if he or his girlfriend had access to naloxone in that moment.
Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when it happens. It can only be effective, however, if it is present in situations that call for it – such as when my son needed it most.
The work to increase access to opioid overdose reversal medicines like naloxone is personal for me. And it’s not just because of my late son.
I myself am a woman 22 years in recovery, working now as an addiction counselor in Aurora, helping others on the same journey to recovery that I was. Over the years, I have seen too many triumphs and tragedies to count, including the loss of my son.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree – we must not only equip more individuals who may be at risk of overdose with naloxone, but also more of our friends, family members, and neighbors, who are often the first to respond in an overdose situation.
When the moment strikes, naloxone can be the difference between life and death.
An effective way to combat fatal overdoses is to prescribe naloxone to individuals at the same time they receive an opioid prescription – oftentimes known as “co-prescribing.”
That work here in Colorado can start with Senate Bill 011, which would provide increased access to opioid overdose reversal medicines by requiring “co-prescribing” of naloxone to at-risk patients at the same time they receive an opioid script.
As someone who works daily with those striving to overcome addiction, I know how critical of a role naloxone plays in providing a second chance in a life-threatening situation.
Unfortunately, many individuals may not even be aware that they are at-risk of overdose or addiction. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 80% of Americans using heroin reported misusing prescription opioids first.
Co-prescribing laws empower prescribers and providers to educate patients about their risk of an overdose event and equip them with naloxone at the pharmacy counter in a non-stigmatizing way. With SB-011, the Colorado General Assembly has the opportunity to join 10 other states that have enacted such policy and equip more Coloradans with naloxone.
We cannot afford to lose any more lives to overdoses in Colorado. Had this bill been law when my son broke his ankle, he might still be by my side today.
We must increase access to naloxone and encourage our elected officials to pass SB 011.
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