Recently in Brookfield, a 21 year-old woman’s life was saved because of some very quick action by caring people around her. The woman had overdosed on heroin and was having severe breathing problems. But before the paramedics even arrived at the scene, she was given two shots of an antidote called Narcan. The young woman’s breathing resumed and the paramedics then rushed her to Elmbrook Memorial Hospital.
While this particular story ended well, in so many other cases involving heroin use, the results are tragic. Heroin abuse has reached epidemic proportions and often, the addiction is an outgrowth of abusing prescription drugs, pain killers from the medicine cabinet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs. But pills are harder to get than heroin these days. Users often have to “doctor shop” to find one willing to give out the pill prescription. Eventually, they give up and turn to heroin.
Narcan is a trade name for Naloxone, a specialized narcotic drug that reverses the effects of other narcotic drugs like heroin. It restores respiratory function when heroin suppresses it. Narcan is the most successful and most commonly used antidote for a heroin overdose and it’s used by emergency medical personnel all the time to resuscitate heroin users.
The fact that Narcan’s use has become so commonplace by the general public is yet one more indicator of how serious the problem of heroin overdose has become in this country. While people who abuse heroin are probably not reading a blog like this, perhaps their friends and relatives are. Those people need to understand that a vast number of heroin or opiate overdoses that result in death could be prevented if those surrounding the heroin user were more proactive.
What happens all too often is that when someone witnesses the heroin user experiencing severe breathing problems, the witness often freaks out, doesn’t want to get into trouble and just leaves the scene. Many of those heroin users could be saved if someone just took the time to call 9-1-1 or simply take them to a hospital.
If you know someone who has a severe addiction and you find that they’ve overdosed, take the time to contact the first responders. Always be aware that if a person is not responsive you need to call 9-1-1. Somebody’s life can be snuffed out in mere seconds and oftentimes, this tragedy can be avoided. Perhaps, if the heroin addict is saved by your quick action, he or she will realize they’ve hit rock bottom. Maybe they can begin the recovery process, get away from this deadly drug and turn their life around.
About Attorney Mark
Attorney Mark Powers is a partner at the criminal defense law firm of Huppertz & Powers, S.C. in Waukesha. Previously, Powers served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Waukesha County District Attorney's office and is currently serving as a municipal judge in North Prairie. He focuses in the area of criminal defense, and has handled many cases involving operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, domestic disputes, and drug offenses.
Powers attended Valparaiso University School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate. Prior to law school, Mark attended the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse where he received his bachelor of science in Political Science.
For more information, please call 262.549.5979 or visit www.waukeshacriminalattorneys.com.