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Off the Editor’s Desk – 12-6-2017

Do drugs cure anything?

Do drugs actually cure anything? Or do they just treat the symptoms or relieve the pain? I get a headache and take a couple of aspirins and that cures the problem. But I can assure you that I will get another one in the future.

I have knee pain and a couple of Aleve helps that until the next day. But surgery will be the only way to do away with this ailment. I have gout, I have a prescription for that and when it flares up, a few tablets over a couple of days clears up the gout. But as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow morning, the gout will return in the future.

I am very thankful that I do not have to take any more medications than that, and thankful for those that are available. But what I am leading up to is the amount of drugs that we as the population of this country are taking, both legal and illegal and the cost in dollars and death that we are suffering because of drugs.

A report penned by Natalia Castro of the Americans for Limited Government states: “2015 was the worst year for overdose deaths in the U. S. history, until 2016 happened. Now, unless the federal government takes decisive action, 2017 will be even worse. The opioid epidemic has left both rural and urban America paralyzed. After decades of overprescribing, opioid deaths last year alone accounted for more lost lives than the entire Vietnam War at 59,000 according to data compiled by the New York Times.

“Even without directly knowing someone addicted to opioids, Americans across the country are feeling the impact of the epidemic. In 2015, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic was about $504 billion, a figure that accounts for roughly 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product. White House data predict that drug overdoses related to opioids are underreported by as much as 24 percent.

“The consequences of this addiction include billions of dollars in medical costs, addiction treatment costs, and criminal justice costs on top of the decrease in productivity among users.

“To mitigate these costs and curb the cycle of addiction, the Trump administration has allocated more than one billion dollars directly to drug addiction since taking office. This includes more than $800 million since April for prevention, treatment, first responders, and prescription drug monitoring programs, recovery and other care in communities. As well as $254 million in funding for high-risk communities, law enforcement, and first responders.”

Ambulances services in Boyceville, Glenwood City and Colfax have available to them a medicine called Narcan which is a nasal spray. Matt Feeney of the Boyceville Ambulance Service said they use an injectable form of Narcan and related that Dunn County Sheriff’s deputies also carry the nasal spray. Brent Standaert from the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department also noted that their department has Narcan available.

Julie Lee of the Glenwood City Ambulance service indicated that they have had great results in using Narcan. “Its our first line of treatment” and noted the great distance from Glenwood City to a local hospital.

Don Knutson, of the Colfax Ambulance Service said they have used it effectively. He also related that if doctors prescribe an opiate pain reliever, they often now give a prescription for Narcan as well. He also informed us that Canine officers carry Narcan for their dogs, because if the dogs sniff an opiate, they could overdose. Narcan kits are available with prescription from the Colfax Pharmacy and other pharmacies. 

According to Google “Narcan (Naloxone) is an opiate antidote. When a person is overdosing on an opioid, breathing can slow or stop and it can be very hard to wake them up from this state. Narcan is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. It cannot be used to get a person high.

“The cost is $20 to $40 for a full naloxone kit. An overdose death by comparison cost taxpayers about $30,000, according to the article on Google.”

Thanks for reading!   ~ Carlton