A new government report shows, while opioid abuse has fallen among younger Americans, the same cannot be said for older adults.
Opioid abuse includes either the use of heroin or illegal use of prescription opioid painkillers. These include oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Rates of opioid abuse among young adults — aged 18 to 25 — decreased from 11.5 percent in 2002 to 8 percent in 2014. But according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in adults 50 years and older opioid abuse doubled, from 1 percent to 2 percent.
Metro police will soon begin carrying and administering an overdose-reversing drug, the latest announcement in Nashville’s effort to address opioid abuse.
The Metro Nashville Police Department said Friday that its officers were preparing to be armed with naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, which can be given to someone suffering from an opioid overdose.
In June, the department requested a prescription for 790 naloxone kits — each including two 4-milligram doses and nasal spray applicators — to be carried by narcotics detectives, undercover detectives, flex officers and patrol sergeants from each precinct.
The kits cost the department roughly $60,000.
Chief Steve Anderson reported that from January to May of this year, at least 87 deaths in Davidson County were tied to opioids or opiates, a figure that “underscores the necessity of our officers carrying naloxone as they answer calls for service and conduct investigations across the city.”
In addition, officers’ quick access to naloxone, historically carried by medics, could potentially save the lives of police staff who come into contact with dangerous opioid substances, the department said.
The drug works by “displacing opioids from the receptors in the brain,” which are depressed from opioid use, sometimes resulting in respiratory failure, Metro police explained in a news release.
Police work stations have received their supplies of naloxone, as well instructions on using the drug. Officers are required to complete an online training through the Tennessee Department of Health before carrying naloxone, said police spokesman Don Aaron, and will have training certificates placed in their files.
The department’s announcement comes two weeks after the recent opioid-related death of Mayor Megan Barry’s own son, 22-year-old Max Barry.
Speaking with reporters Monday for the first time after her son’s fatal overdose, the mayor said there were 245 opioid-related overdoses last year in Davidson County.
Autopsy results showed that Max Barry died July 29 in Colorado from a combination of drugs, including opioids, methodone and hydromorphone.
First-responders administered naloxone to Max Barry, the mayor said, though the drug was unsuccessful in that instance.
The Metro Health Department received funding in the 2017-2018 budget for an opioid specialist, a position that will soon be filled, the mayor said Monday.
Reach Natalie Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-259-8382. Follow her on Twitter at @natalie_allison.
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