Holder Calls for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel to Carry Naloxone
He urged federal law enforcement agencies to train and equip personnel who may interact with someone overdosing on opioids.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a new memorandum Aug. 1 in which he recommends that federal law enforcement agencies train personnel who may interact with an opioid overdose victim and equip those personnel with the drug naloxone that can treat it. According to the U.S. Justice Department, this would allow certain federal agents -- such as emergency medical personnel -- to effectively restore breathing to someone experiencing a heroin or opioid overdose.
The department reports that the most recent study indicated an average of 110 Americans die per day from drug overdoses, more than the number dying from gunshot wounds or motor vehicle crashes. And more than half of the overdose deaths involve opioids; heroin overdose deaths rose by 45 percent between 2006 and 2010.
"The shocking increase in overdose deaths illustrates that addiction to heroin and other opioids, including some prescription painkillers, represents nothing less than a public health crisis," Holder said. "I am confident that expanding the availability of naloxone has the potential to save the lives, families and futures of countless people across the nation."
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have changed their laws to increase access to naloxone, resulting in more than 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001, according to DOJ.
"The heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic knows no boundaries--anyone can be affected, and we have already lost far too many lives," said Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli. "We have moved aggressively against this epidemic, and we know that the actions of law enforcement officers at the scene of an overdose can mean the difference between life and death. Attorney General Holder's leadership in this arena will help prevent future overdose deaths and we look forward to working closely with his office and other partners to get naloxone to law enforcement professionals across the nation."