Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Shot That Saves the Lives of Addicts Is Now in Their Hands

In a haunted world of heroin and hurt and heartless hustles, located between a dusty brickyard and rusty railroad tracks along the border of Chicago and blue-collar Cicero, Steve Kamenicky is the go-to guy.
Longtime addicts and novice users seek out Mr. Kamenicky, known as Pony Tail Steve, sometimes in the middle of the day, other times deep into the night. They go to him, usually in a panic, desperate for an injection for a fallen buddy or lover of what some call a miracle drug. They hurry over the paving bricks that Mr. Kamenicky neatly laid to lead the way to his tent, pitched among the tall weeds and trees in one of a string of small encampments of the homeless on the edge of the brickyard.
Mr. Kamenicky, 52, is not a dealer. His own heroin addiction is much too strong. He shoots every $10 bag of heroin he can.
But his fellow addicts consider Mr. Kamenicky a savior.
“I’ve saved more people than the paramedics,” he boasted the other evening as he sat in a Cicero parking lot, his long, salt-and-pepper ponytail snaking down his back.
The drug he administers to fellow heroin users is called Naloxone or Narcan, its brand name. Mr. Kamenicky estimated that in the last few years he had brought back from the deadly depths of heroin overdose at least 35 addicts — in abandoned buildings, crack houses and around kitchen tables.
Naloxone, which is injected, reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. A drug that was a few years ago given by doctors and paramedics, Naloxone is now directly dispensed to drug users like Mr. Kamenicky, who are trained by the Chicago Recovery Alliance and receive Naloxone through a doctor-supervised program. The effort is part of an up-from-the bottom movement in the struggle to rescue those addicted to heroin and other opiates.
“It saves lives,” said Dr. Virgilio Arenas, who leads the addiction division at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Naloxone is an effective antidote. It works within minutes once administered.”
Mr. Kamenicky receives Naloxone free, as do drug users across the city, from the alliance, a nonprofit needle-exchange and H.I.V.-prevention program. The alliance also dispenses fresh syringes, condoms and other paraphernalia to users in the hope that they will stay alive long enough to make “any positive change,” the group’s mantra.
Dr. Arenas said there were similar “harm-reduction” projects in Milwaukee, New York and other cities where needles and Naloxone were distributed.
Not everyone endorses the effort. “Some people in the addiction field feel it might foster more drug use,” Dr. Arenas said, adding, “but I don’t think people will use more because they have the antidote. I favor the harm-reduction approach.”...
Continue reading
Don Terry @'NY Times'

My thought is that it is commom sense to make Narcan available 24 hours for immediate use for people who have overdosed.
Know that when I was using there was a bottle handy.

No comments:

Post a Comment