Holder urges use of drug to help in heroin ODs

Holder urges use of drug to help in heroin ODs

Credit: WUSA

Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, a nasal spray being used to reverse the effects of opiate overdoses.

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by KEVIN JOHNSON / USA TODAY

KING5.com

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 2:39 PM

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder Declaring heroin addiction is an "urgent and growing public health crisis,'' urged first responders to carry the drug naloxone that helps resuscitate victims from an overdose.

"Addiction to heroin and other opiates — including certain prescription pain-killers — is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life — and all too often, with deadly results,'' Holder said in a video message posted Monday on the Justice Department website. "The transition to and increase in heroin abuse is a sad but not unpredictable symptom of the significant increase in prescription drug abuse we've seen over the past decade.''

Between 2006 and 2010, the attorney general said, heroin overdose deaths increased by 45%. And between 2008 and 2013, he said, heroin seizures along the U.S. southwest border increased by more than 320%.

"It's clear that opiate addiction is an urgent and growing public health crisis,'' Holder said, adding that naloxone, when administered quickly, can resuscitate overdose victims.

The attorney general said 17 states and the District of Columbia have amended their laws to increase access to naloxone, resulting in more than 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.

"Used in concert with 'Good Samaritan' laws, which grant immunity from criminal prosecution to those seeking medical help for someone experiencing an overdose, naloxone can save lives,'' the Justice Department said.

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