While we have become quite well versed with the concept of pandemics as of lately due to COVID-19, we often fail to recognize the difference between an epidemic and pandemic. While an epidemic is large, it is also generally contained or expected in its spread, while a pandemic is international and out of control¹. Meaning that at one point COVID-19 was merely an epidemic, but eventually evolved into a pandemic which we are still trying to completely eliminate (more information on that here).
And if we have learned anything from the Coronavirus, it is that prevention is key. Prevention means that we can avoid such large-scale, international emergencies from occurring again. This is a great feat, therefore, it is important to discuss how we can tackle current problems in healthcare and beyond.
One such problem is the Opioid Epidemic which refers to the misuse of opioids which are medications prescribed by doctors to treat persistent or severe pain. In Canada, there were 2861 opioid-related deaths and 16 opioid-related hospitalizations each day in 2016². Amidst this opioid epidemic, it is often debated whether we should take extra preventative measures in order to save lives.
One such measure is requiring police officers to carry Naloxone wherever they go. Recently, an increasing number of areas have mandated that police officers must carry Naloxone, a powerful drug used to counteract the effects of opioids in the case of an overdose. However, some officers have carried it without any local guidelines or rules in place.
I believe that police officers should be given the responsibility of carrying Naloxone, because the solution to this opioid crisis lies in post-overdose intervention, trusting the capability of police officers, and encouraging education and rehabilitation for patients with a history of opioid use. When looking at the optimal circumstances in which we should administer Naloxone, we must analyze a number of factors including availability, provider skill and level of training, and the clinical circumstances³.