PONTIAC (WWJ) – What a sad situation, involving heroin use and Narcan in metro Detroit. People are being saved only to go back out on the streets to knock again on death’s door.
The problem of opioid abuse is tragically getting bigger by the day. While 113 drug users have been saved in Oakland County, Sheriff Mike Bouchard said it’s not uncommon for deputies to save the same person twice in one day from a fatal overdose.
“They have no idea who they’re buying from, what’s in it and whether it will kill them or whether it will give them what they’re looking for, that one particular high,” Bouchard told WWJ’s Roberta Jasina. “When they get saved, they go to the hospital and they go right back out looking for it again — and they were within minutes of dying. But it doesn’t dissuade them because it’s such a powerful siren call.”
Some people are so deep within the overdose, literally moments away from death, that multiple doses of Narcan — an emergency drug treatment for known or suspected opioid overdoses — have to be used to bring them back to life.
“What happens is once the effective amount is given, they immediately begin to come back and become responsive, almost immediately — so much so that sometimes, they go into fight mode because they’re angry,” said Bouchard. “The last thing they remember, they were feeling that high and now they wake up and they don’t feel very good because this was just like hitting a brick wall and stopping that high. They’re angry at the person that just saved their life and they can be very combative, instantly.”
Bouchard said things can get quickly get ugly once someone just coming out of an overdose becomes aggressive.
“That’s part of the training, is be prepared that right after you save this person’s life, they may try to punch you in the face,” he said.
Bouchard want to see new legislation passed in Michigan that would allow police to report a “Narcan save” and require some kind of intervention, to break the cycle of drug abuse and overdose.
“Right now, we’re prohibited from sharing who we saved. More than once we saved somebody and they get stabilized, they go to the hospital and then they get let out of the hospital and they go right back and they OD again. And there’s nothing we can do about it because we can’t tell anybody right now,” he said. “So I’d like to see, and we’re actively seeking legislation that would allow us to immediately connect someone we just saved with the court or some sort of formal process that will force them to get into a treatment center or a diversion direction that could hopefully save their life.”
Officials have saved 113 lives in Oakland County alone with Narcan, which is available over the counter for home use in Michigan for about $130 a kit.
“Some folks say ‘Just let them die,'” said Bouchard. “They need help. I think every life’s worth saving.”