The life-saving emergency drug naloxone is administered to individuals actively suffering from an opioid-related drug overdose, and was reportedly given to pop star Demi Lovato after she was rushed to a hospital last month in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone reports. She isn’t alone, the outlet notes, and deaths from opioid overdoses across the country are on the rise, which makes the stigmatization of naloxone problematic.
“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from opioid overdoses increased five fold from 1999 to 2016. And, CDC estimates show, in 2016 alone, opioids — heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers — killed more than 42,000 people in the United States,” Rolling Stone’s Annamarya Scaccia writes. Scaccia reports it’s important to not draw an inference between naloxone access and the rise of opioids, because experts say it’s “harmful” to do so.
“It’s like saying more access to condoms increases teen pregnancy rates. That’s just not true,” Becky Vaughn, director of the Colombo Plan’s Global Centre for Credentialing and Certification of Addiction Professionals, told Rolling Stone. The stigma, Vaughn told the outlet, can stop people from getting “the life-saving help they need.”
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