Physician Patient

Harm Reduction Strategies to Counter Opioid Addiction and Overdose Deaths

In this Jan. 2020 talk, US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH outlines proven life-saving measures to reverse death and disability in the current US opioid epidemic. Training and equipping first responders (police, firefighters) as well as addicts themselves to use naloxone (Narcan) as an antidote to reverse respiratory depression which often kills in heroin, fentanyl overdoses, Dr. Adams also emphasizes the positive results of sterile needle exchanges as public policy. In drug using communities such as the US homeless population, needle exchanges do not reinforce addiction behavior. Rather, providing easy access to sterile (safe) needles permits personal contact by outreach helpers which can result in needed shelter and access to effective addiction treatment for homeless people. Sterile needles avoid transmitting HIV and other blood born infections (such as hepatitis) which are readily transferred from person to person by dirty needles. Furthermore, opioid addicts may benefit from taking the medication buprenorphine (Suboxone) under medical supervision when prescribed on an ongoing basis to reduce opioid cravings to reduce the liklihood of  inadvertent overdoses from street heroin which is often laced with lethal fentanyl.












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