SALT LAKE COUNTY – Were police officers seizing the wrong kind of drug needles? Supporters of the anti-opioid medication Naloxone say kits were being taken away from people who needed them, but, steps to fix this problem appear to be working.
It wasn’t just police officer who were taking kits. Utah Naloxone Medical Director Jennifer Plumb says, “It did happen in a couple of law enforcement settings, but, it also happened in a couple of housing settings and it happened in recovery settings.” She adds that the problem was getting especially bad leading up to the end of Autumn. She says, in October, “I heard of about five people that called me in the span of 48 hours, saying it happened to them.”
What was behind this? Plumb has a theory. She says, “Maybe people were erring on the side of being overly cautious or overly conservative. They saw a needle and [thought], ‘Nope, that’s paraphernalia.”
However, she says cases of kits being taken away have dropped dramatically since Attorney General Sean Reyes spoke to the Opioid Task Force. Plumb says officers and recovery workers were given more instruction about the Naloxone kits, and what’s inside them. Plumb says the needle in the kit is not the same kind an addict can use to inject heroin. “It’s a much bigger needle, designed to not only go into a muscle, but to be able to go through clothing,” she says.
The medication has been credited for reversing over 1900 overdoses in Utah.
(Photo Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News, file)
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