The Hays County Sheriff’s Office has announced it has joined other law enforcement agencies in arming its deputies with an antidote for treating the effects of opioids.
Amid a nationwide rise in opioid overdose deaths, law enforcement agencies around the country are working to enact procedures and policies to help lower the risk of death due to opioids.
Opioids include heroin and prescription pain medications such as fentanyl. The most common opioids are:
- hydrocodone (Vicodin®) oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
- oxymorphone (Opana®)
- morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
According to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, while opioids create a feeling of euphoria, an overdose can slow a person’s heart rate and can cause breathing trouble, loss of consciousness or coma.
The antidote, known as Naloxone or a brand name Narcan, can reverse and block the effects of opioids and can quickly restore normal respiration.
In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) warned that even trace amounts of opioids, such as fentanyl – an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin – can be fatal if an officer is unknowingly exposed.
According to the DEA, accidental opioid overdoses are becoming more common as first responders have begun to report an increase in symptoms related to opioid poisoning while performing their duties. In fact, the DEA has specifically recommended the immediate use of naloxone in such cases.
Deputies and other select personnel will be issued naloxone in an intranasal form which has been found to be effective in the initial treatment of overdose victims. This provides less risk to the responder administering the drug and requires less medical training, as no syringe or injection is required.
According to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, it is currently being issued to all deputies for immediate use when needed.