MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a drug that works as an antidote to save someone overdosing from heroin. Now a Minnesota state senator who lost her own daughter to a heroin overdose wants all law enforcement officers to carry it.
The drug is commonly called Narcan, and laws in 16 other states allow officers to carry and provide the drug, which can be injected or used as a nasal spray.
Sen. Chris Eaton’s daughter, Ariel, was 23 years old in 2007 when she died of an overdose in a car in a Brooklyn Center parking lot.
“The first responders were police,” Eaton said. “They did not carry Narcan, and it was a good 40 minutes before she received any.”
The drug stops the effects of an overdose. In one Massachusetts town where police carry it, the drug is credited with saving more than 180 lives since 2010.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says he is backing the proposed change in the law because he says it will save lives. And the sheriff says startling new numbers show there has been a sharp increase in heroin use in the Twin Cities.
In Hennepin County, the number of overdose deaths has jumped from 8 in 2010 to 48 so far in 2013.
Stanek disputes critics who say widespread use of Narcan would encourage more heroin use.
“Law enforcement is about public safety and saving lives, and with this I can do both,” the county sheriff said.
The drug is inexpensive, less than $20 a dose.
Eaton wonders if her daughter could have been saved if the responding officer had Narcan.
The senator says she will introduce the bill in the next legislative session, which begins in February.
Part of the bill will also give partial amnesty for someone who calls 911 to report an overdose. Often friends are reluctant to make that call for fear they will be prosecuted.
Stanek says the sharp increase in deaths is because more and more people are turning to heroin when they can’t get prescription drugs to abuse. He also says the heroin in the Twin Cities is pure and strong.