GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Police Department has used naloxone to save 10 lives from overdosing on opioids since the new year’s first overdose in the city on Jan. 13, according to GPD records.
Between Feb. 1 to Feb. 6, officers administered naloxone to six different individuals with one passing away. Overall, officers had to use 18 doses of nalaxone to save nine of 10 individuals. One survivor’s overdose was not opioid related.
Multiple doses of naloxone must sometimes be used on an individual due to the amount of opiate in the person’s system. As naloxone wears off, another dose may be needed as the victim’s body breaks down the opioid in his or her system. The opiate antidote works against overdosing with pain pills like morphine or drugs like heroin. The antidote can assist in an overdose situation even when a victim has been drinking or taken other drugs, but only in the terms of combating opioid overdose. Hazards like alcohol poisoning would not be affected by a dose of naloxone.
As long as a first responder call has resulted in an overdose and no other incident was committed, GPD has not charged the overdosed individual with a crime within recent memory, according to the GPD chief.
“If we charge the person than more than likely no one is going to call when someone has overdosed,” said Gallipolis Police Chief Jeff Boyer. “By not charging it gives a way of saying, yeah, you can still save somebody’s life.”
Community members have often criticized whether the use of naloxone on an overdosing individual is enabling a drug user.
Boyer said it is the GPD’s duty to protect and save lives and a concern exists that if charges are pressed on overdosing individuals, lives that could have been saved will be lost. Boyer emphasized dealers and traffickers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that the overdose cases would be examined on a “case by case” basis.
Regardless of the legal nature in whether to charge or not charge an overdosing individual, Boyer said GPD officers took oaths to save lives and would continue doing their best to ensure that.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.