The Killer of Luzerne County

Mandy Stickles, Assistant Opinion Editor

Since 2002, the death rate from drug overdoses are astronomical, ranging from 45 to 70 annually in Luzerne County. This is the leading cause of deaths compared to other death incidents in this area.

Heroin and opiates have become more popular over the years and people are becoming more risky with their drug choices. Finding it cool to experiment and combine different types of drugs to get a more intense or longer high.

Drugs have become more easily available and it does not matter if the people of Luzerne County are poor or rich, it is a problem involving the whole county and needs to be addressed.

An overdose on drugs could happen to anyone, especially if it is someone that is not experienced with the drug or if people decide to mix different drugs for a new type of high.

If caught soon enough drug overdoses can be prevented; with a drug called Naloxone. Naloxone is safe to use and has been around for a while. When the central nervous system and respiratory system begins to shut down from an overdose of drugs the Naloxone reverses the effects, saving the person’s life.

Naloxone is the saving grace for drug overdoses, however many of the times it became too late to use it because only medical emergency responders used to be allowed to administer the drug. Thankfully law officials recently came to their senses and realized it does not make much sense to only allow medical responders to be able to administer this drug.

It may seem foolish to allow someone access to this drug that may have no medical experience or familiar with injections, however if it comes down to a life or death situation and there is not enough time to wait for medical responders, people may think differently about it then. 

Having Naloxone available to anyone could also be beneficial if it deals with a younger crowd who may be scared to call the police for fear of getting in trouble.

Records show that last year in Luzerne County 63 people died from drug overdoses; if this drug can help deduce that number of deaths then it seems like a no brainer to allow people to have access to Naloxone.

The market is selling Naloxone under the name Evzio. It is basically like an EpiPen, allowing the person administering the drug to simply stick it into their thigh and not having to worry about needles or having to know how to inject something properly.

Dr. Kimberly Welch, Assistant Professor for the International Medical Pharmacy Practice here at Wilkes voices her concern for the drug.

“The problem with Naloxone is that it works fast but not for a long time. People need to know that injecting Evzio does not completely reverse the effects of an overdose it only prolongs them, buying the victim time to get to a hospital or wait for medical attention to arrive,” said Welch.

Having Evzio can become handy and reassuring for people that may know someone that does drugs like heroin or opiates. God forbid, someone finds a friend or family member lying unconscious and overdosing, knowing Evzio can save their life is a good feeling to have. 

However, Evizo should not be taken for granted or used on a daily bases. Drug abusers should seek help for their addiction and not rely on Evizo to be their back up if they accidently decide to overdose.

When using Evizo, people should also be careful because if the drug does completely reverse the effect of a heroin or opiate overdose the victim can go into immediate withdrawal, which can be just as harmful and deadly as an overdose.

Dr. Thomas Franko, Assistant Professor for the Pharmacy Practice here at Wilkes is all for the Naloxone drug and allowing people to have access to Evizo.

“Allowing people to have access to Evizo is a step in the right direction on figuring out that someone has a drug problem and then helping them get the help they need for their drug addiction,” said Franko. 

It might be hard or even close to impossible to stop the drug problems in Luzerne County but at least with the drug Naloxone it can help save people’s lives from drug overdosing and being to provide them with the help they need.