Nix Narcan

Emily Schoen, Editor-in-Chief

With the rising opioid epidemic, police have been instructed to carry an injectable drug called Naloxone, better known as Narcan.

When injected into the muscle of the arm, thigh or buttocks, Narcan is designed to block and reverse the effects, including respiratory depression, sedation, and hypotension, of overdoses on opioids, such as heroin and prescription pills, like Morphine, Codeine, Oxycodone, Methadone and Vicodin and cannot be used to make a person high. More recently, the nasal spray form of Narcan has been introduced.

When a person is suffering from an overdose, breathing can slow down or stop completely, it can be very hard to wake the person up from this state. Within minutes brain damage can occur as a result of lack of oxygen to the brain, resulting in headaches, confusion, memory problems and nausea, and in severe cases, cognitive, behavioral and physical disabilities. Narcan can also reverse psychotomimetic and dysphoric effects of drugs such as Pentazocine.

Narcan provides a window of opportunity for helpers to save a life by providing extra time to call 911 and carry out rescue breathing techniques and first aid until professional medical help can arrive.

Narcan starts to wear off after approximately 30 minutes and is mostly gone from person’s system after 90 minutes. By this time, the body has processed enough of the opioids, that the overdosing person is unlikely to stop breathing again. In some cases, the patient may need another Narcan dose and longer medical observation.

In 2013, 2,400 people died from a heroin overdose in Pennsylvania. All of which made a choice to begin taking the drug in the first place, knowing the consequences and the potential effects.

Currently, the main Narcan provider in Illinois is the Chicago Recovery Alliance. Narcon costs between $20-$40, whereas a death by overdose costs taxpayers approximately $30,000, according to The choices of someone else to dapple in drugs should not require payments from others who are not responsible.

Narcan; however, does not prevent relapsing and in a country with a shortage of addiction counseling, people will inevitably be left without resources to break the continuous cycle. Critics even question whether the availability of Narcan, combined with the availability of cheap opioids, pushes drug use over the edge, according to a report by Marshall Project.

Recently there have been disputes over the use of this “life saving” drug, regarding whether police officers should carry Narcan. A drug addict is just that, an addict. Their body will crave a substance and it will go through withdrawal, experiencing anxiety, fatigue, sweating, vomiting, depression, seizures, hallucinations, nervousness, sensitivity to pain, slurred speech, stomach cramps, teeth chattering and/or tremors, according to Mayo Clinic, if it is not supplied with the substance after it is processed through the body. Over time, a person will have to increase the intake of a drug in order to achieve the desired high, potentially leading to dangerous amounts. If a person has an overdose, their body will continue to crave the substance whether Narcan was administered or not. Yes, it provides the opportunity to save a life, but it will come at a great expense to taxpayers to those who will repeatedly do drugs without receiving a form of drug counseling. Even if an counter-addiction program is provided, the drug addict may quit the program unless they truly are committed to becoming sober. A drug addict should have to pay a fine for every time a dose of Narcan is injected, instead of making the taxpayers pay to supply the drug. If that individual is unable to pay, they should be forced to spend time in jail, where they can spend time getting their bodies accustomed to not having the drug. A person makes the choice to indulge in the drug, they should suffer the consequences for their actions. Narcan is an important asset, but should not come at cost from the taxpayer.