UN Anti-Drug Body Supports Overdose Prevention Measures

Delegates to the 55th session of the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) in Vienna unanimously approved a resolution to promote measures to prevent drug overdose deaths last Friday. The resolution calls on the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international organizations to work with individual countries to address and reduce drug overdoses. Crucially, the resolution included mention of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that can effectively reverse opiate overdoses and which does not carry any danger of abuse.

Naloxone can save lives, the CND recognized Friday (wikimedia.org)
The resolution was introduced by the Czech Republic and cosponsored by Israel and Denmark (the latter on behalf of the European Union). Earlier in the week, Gil Kerlikowske, head of the US Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) affirmed US support for overdose prevention. In his opening statement at the week-long session, Kerlikowske endorsed training public health and medical personnel in overdose recognition and response, as well as the use of naloxone and other overdose reversal medications.

"Every life is worth saving," said Dasha Ocheret, policy and advocacy program manager for the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network. "Everyone knows someone who has died from an overdose. It's thrilling that the United Nations recognizes this is a problem to be taken seriously and something can be done."

"This represents a critical step towards improving global public health," said Donald McPherson, director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and former drug policy coordinator for the city of Vancouver. "The global overdose epidemic can be addressed with meaningful, evidence-based interventions to reduce the immediate potential harms associated with opioid use, and prevent unnecessary death. It is heartening to witness CND member countries take this step together to save lives."

The biggest risk of fatal overdose is around opiates and opioid pain medications. According to the UNODC, "the ingestion of opioids accounts for nearly half of the global drug-related deaths, and the majority of deaths could have been prevented." The UNODC puts the number of user of opium derivatives, both medical and non-medical, at around 21 million worldwide.

Opioid overdose deaths are generally preventable for three reasons: The deaths occur gradually after drug use, there are typically other people present, and the effects of overdose can be reversed with naloxone, also known under its brand name, Narcan.

In some countries, including some states in the US, there are ongoing programs to offer naloxone to drug users, their friends, and family members. Last fall, Massachusetts announced its 1,000th overdose reversal using naloxone. New Mexico has also been a pioneer in expanding the use of naloxone.

"Naloxone is a safe and effective medication that has been available for more than forty years," said Sharon Stancliff of the New York City-based Harm Reduction Coalition. "It's exciting that the UN has officially recognized the importance of making this life-saving medication more widely available. It is vital that it is made accessible to people who need it, both inside the hospital setting and outside, through emergency services and to family members of opioid users."

Vienna
Austria
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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I wonder how many deaths

I wonder how many deaths could be prevented if anyone who was prescribed an opiate was also prescribed naloxone (not necessarily to use, of course, but just explained to the patient what it is and to keep it handy and to tell their family and friends about it so that they are ready also).

i wonder how many lives would

i wonder how many lives would be improved if they stopped with the nonsense methadone, methadose, buprenorphine, subutex, suboxone, naltroxone, naloxone, narcan, implant therapy etc etc and just ended this drug war and made diacetylmorphine legal at a slightly above manufacturers price as it was before the ridiculous temperance movement, the ridiculous anti asian movement in cali in the 1800s and that idiot religious dude who had this all started in the first place. enough enough enough with these waste of time medicines. NEXT WERE GONNA HAVE PANCAKODINBUTEXTHURSDAYCODEIN HYDROCHLORIDE which is like a sugar meets syrup concoction, it only works during daylight hours on weekends and has to be spread atop AUNT JEMIMA ONLY (cause the pharm company has a deal worked with aunt jemima, no other pancake mix company will work with this med) PANCAKES, what itll do is itll "GET RID OF CRAVINGS" and "BLOCK/FILL YOUR RECEPTORS" and WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY just like every other STUPID WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY PROHIBITIONIST DRUG. Canada got the message awhile ago, Europe before them, WE ALL USED TO GET THE MESSAGE BEFORE THE STUPID MOVEMENTS OF THE LATE 1800S AND EARLY 1900S it wasnt THAT LONG AGO but this and everything else has been legal and nobody really cared for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, HELLO!!!!!!!!!! ANYBODY PAYING ATTENTION!!!!! THIS IS YOUR BRAIN, THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON PROHIBITION!!! END PROHIBITION A NEW NIKE SNEAKER - JUST DO IT! i cant wait til prohibition is over, a company starts producing and marketing diacetylmorphine and we get a commercial during saturday morning cartoons (AHH DRUGS!! FEAR FOR THE CHILDREN IN THEE WORLD!!!! THEYLL NEVER GROW UP!! THEYLL ALWAYS BE KIDS RIGHT?!?!) that has people behaving and acting like in those old school juicy fruit gum commercials w/ the song, HEROIN IS GUNNA MOVE YA, THE MORPHINE TASTE THAT GETS RIGHT TO YA, HEROIN - THE TASTE THE TASTE THE TASTE IS GONNA MOOOOOVE YAAAA!! AND THEN OF COURSE, in QUICK, clearly thief like lawyer voice you hear very quick at the end heroin is a now legalized drug blablablablabla must be 18 or older and have your parents permission to bang dope, blablablablabla do not boot up and drive blablablablabla

how many lives

i wonder how many lives would be improved if they stopped with the nonsense methadone, methadose, buprenorphine, subutex, suboxone, naltroxone, naloxone, narcan, implant therapy etc etc and just ended this drug war and made diacetylmorphine legal at a slightly above manufacturers price as it was before the ridiculous temperance movement, the ridiculous anti asian movement in cali in the 1800s and that idiot religious dude who had this all started in the first place. enough enough enough with these waste of time medicines. NEXT WERE GONNA HAVE PANCAKODINBUTEXTHURSDAYCODEIN HYDROCHLORIDE which is like a sugar meets syrup concoction, it only works during daylight hours on weekends and has to be spread atop AUNT JEMIMA ONLY (cause the pharm company has a deal worked with aunt jemima, no other pancake mix company will work with this med) PANCAKES, what itll do is itll "GET RID OF CRAVINGS" and "BLOCK/FILL YOUR RECEPTORS" and WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY just like every other STUPID WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY PROHIBITIONIST DRUG. Canada got the message awhile ago, Europe before them, WE ALL USED TO GET THE MESSAGE BEFORE THE STUPID MOVEMENTS OF THE LATE 1800S AND EARLY 1900S it wasnt THAT LONG AGO but this and everything else has been legal and nobody really cared for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, HELLO!!!!!!!!!! ANYBODY PAYING ATTENTION!!!!! THIS IS YOUR BRAIN, THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON PROHIBITION!!! END PROHIBITION A NEW NIKE SNEAKER - JUST DO IT! i cant wait til prohibition is over, a company starts producing and marketing diacetylmorphine and we get a commercial during saturday morning cartoons (AHH DRUGS!! FEAR FOR THE CHILDREN IN THEE WORLD!!!! THEYLL NEVER GROW UP!! THEYLL ALWAYS BE KIDS RIGHT?!?!) that has people behaving and acting like in those old school juicy fruit gum commercials w/ the song, HEROIN IS GUNNA MOVE YA, THE MORPHINE TASTE THAT GETS RIGHT TO YA, HEROIN - THE TASTE THE TASTE THE TASTE IS GONNA MOOOOOVE YAAAA!! AND THEN OF COURSE, in QUICK, clearly thief like lawyer voice you hear very quick at the end heroin is a now legalized drug blablablablabla must be 18 or older and have your parents permission to bang dope, blablablablabla do not boot up and drive blablablablabla

Naloxone

excellent news!

Naloxone

excellent news!

Good news

They need to add a fourth reason to their list of reasons why heroin-related overdoses are preventable:  As Dr. Stanton Peele and others have pointed out, folks rarely die from an overdose of heroin by itself.  The deaths usually result from taking other drugs in combination with heroin (especially alcohol) and/or being sold some other drug which is passed off as heroin such as fentanyl or any number of related analogs which have different dosage requirements and are many times stronger than heroin in comparable quantities.  Still, almost all of these deaths could be prevented with proper training and increased availability of naxolene to known users of the drug.

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