Yesterday, a life was saved in Staten Island. After arriving at the scene of an opioid overdose, a local law enforcement officer administered the overdose-reversal drug, naloxone, to an unresponsive victim. He was revived, thanks to the officer – and the naloxone he carried as part of the New York Police Department’s pilot program to train 180 officers to administer the overdose reversal drug.
Our Nation is struggling with an opioid epidemic: of the 38,000 drug overdose deaths in 2010, approximately 22,100 involved prescription drugs. More than 16,000 of these deaths involved opioid painkillers[i], more than cocaine and heroin combined. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010 – surpassing deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes[ii]. Staten Island has been particularly hard hit by this epidemic, where in 2011the mortality rate from overdose was four times as high as that of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, and 3.5 times as high as the Bronx rate.
As staggering as these statistics are, we have reason to be optimistic about reversing them—because every opioid overdose death is preventable. We have steadfastly encouraged and promoted the distribution of naloxone to law enforcement professionals, EMTs and other emergency first-responders. In fact, the pilot program that saved a life yesterday was funded in part by our office through a grant from the New York-New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. The naloxone and atomizers were purchased with HIDTA funds while the other materials were provided by the New York State Department of Health.
ONDCP is proud to partner with state, city and local governments to continue to promote the use of naloxone, particularly within police departments. For more information, please contact us and sign up for updates.
[i] Sources: CDC/WONDER, extracted February 11, 2013
[ii] Source: NCHS Data Brief, December, 2011, Updated with 2009 and 2010 mortality data