Narcan handouts

The Boston Herald ran an article on a local Narcan handout program. Highlights:

Advertising with the glib phrase “Got Narcan? Need a refill?” plastered on the side of its needle exchange vans, the Boston Public Health Commission is stuffing the pockets of Hub junkies with the powerful prescription drug in hopes of countering heroin overdoses.

But front-line ambulance workers said giving addicts a powerful overdose remedy is a flat-out “stupid” practice that encourages uninhibited drug use and could even endanger their lives.

“The solution is for a health care professional to administer the drug, then offer them detox. These days you don’t know if the heroin is laced with something that can interact with it,” said Matt Carty, head of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Union/EMS Division. “It’s stupid, and you can quote me on that.”

The Public Health Commission, which oversees the emergency medical service, reports that since it began distributing Narcan a year ago, the drug has saved 50 addicts from overdoses.

Dr. Peter Moyer, the commission’s medical director, said the bottom line is that Narcan saves lives. It also keeps addicts returning to the city for services and counseling so that one day perhaps the addict will want to get off drugs, Moyer added.

“There’s really no downside to its use,” Moyer said. “They (addicts) do get training.”

What makes me nuts is not so much that they are handing our Narcan. It’s that it’s done in the context of no access to meaningful to treatment or recovery support services.