Opiate blockers another great tool for area law enforcement

Published 11:05 am Friday, December 18, 2015

Earlier this week, our editorial board praised the efforts of the C.A.S.S. Community Coalition and the Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health for helping our communities battle opioids, through the installation of four Red Med Prescription Boxes in Dowagiac and Edwardsburg.

The partnership between SWBH and its partners in Berrien and Cass County has resulted in yet another victory for the men and women combating heroin and prescription pain killer abuse within our borders this week.

This week, officers with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and the Dowagiac Police Department were equipped with kits containing naloxone hydrochloride, or Narcan, a substance capable of rapidly treating someone suffering the effects of an opioid-induced overdose. Deputies the Cass County Sheriff’s Office are also expected to begin carrying the substance in the near future.

Delivered to people through their nasal passage, Narcan temporarily blocks the effects that opium has on someone’s brain, buying law enforcement officers responding to potential overdoses some time to get the victim to a hospital for treatment. Able to resuscitate people fairly deep into an overdose, this tool could very well allow police to save the life of someone they otherwise may have been to late to help.

Like the drop-off boxes, these kits were given to law enforcement officials free of charge due to a grant awarded to SWBH, which provides support to people dealing with substance abuse problems in eight counties in southwest Michigan.

Both local police and SWBH have been trying to curb the rising trend of opioid abuse within the area — a problem that has already claimed the lives of several people who have overdosed on heroin or painkillers. Now armed with Narcan, first responders can help prevent these tragedies from occurring.

One complaint that some have toward the officers using drug blockers such as naloxone hydrochloride is that it will enable drug abusers to continue their harmful habits, with the reassurance that emergency personnel will be able to easily rescue them in the event they overdose. This argument ignores the fact that police won’t just leave the victim to their merry way after assisting them — instead, they will work with local hospitals and institutions to insure they get the treatment they need to break their addiction.

We want to thank SWBH and our local police leaders for working together yet again to help protect our community from these harmful substances. While we hope police will never be faced in situation where they have to use their Narcan kits, we’re glad they have them in the event where it’s needed.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.