Jennifer Serrentino MD recently updates her blog talking about preventing Opiate Overdoses. Prescription pain killers and heroin continue to be abused by teenagers and young adults in communities all over Long Island.
Parents, friends, law enforcement, and government officials are taking steps to try and curb the continued rise in popularity of these substances, more generally referred to as opiates or opioid drugs. Despite these attempts to reduce use, opiate addiction is on the rise.
As more individuals are abusing opiates, more are dying from overdoses, she says in her blog post. She continues to say they are young men and women who have fathers, mothers, siblings, grandparents, and friends who love them. There is no question that it is painful to watch someone you love destroy their own lives by opiate addiction. If they are alive, there is still the possibility that they may choose to recover and rebuild their lives to become the person they were before their addiction. However, if they have died from an overdose, then this possibility is lost.
Serrentino says in her blog, in 2006, seeing the increased trend in opiate addiction, the New York State Department of Health began a program called Opioid Overdose Prevention. This program is designed to train non-medical persons to administer naloxone (Narcan) to someone they believe to be in the throes of an opiate overdose. Naloxone is a medication that blocks the effects of opiates in the brain and temporarily reverses the effect of the drugs until emergency responders arrive. The responders are trained to recognize what an overdose looks like, how to alert emergency medical responders, how to perform rescue breathing when needed, and how to administer naloxone to reverse the overdose until help arrives.
Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson, Long Island, has been instrumental in helping the surrounding communities that are struggling with opiate addiction. In 2011, they began the Hope House Overdose Prevention Endeavor (HHOPE) which is one of these state sponsored Opioid Overdose Prevention programs. Dr. Serrentino, in conjunction with Helen McCarthy, Pharm.D, R.Ph, plans on doing some of these overdose response trainings in surrounding communities. The hope is that the program will train as many individuals as are interested to become trained overdose responders who can then intervene in preventing deaths from opiate overdoses.