“You don’t have to be a policeman or a firefighter or a paramedic to save a life,” said Dr. Jerome Adams, the nation’s top doctor, who spoke at the National RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta.
The advisory was welcomed by drug-treatment experts and officials locally and across the nation, as opiate addiction continues to take tens of thousands of American lives annually.
Dr. Jerome Adams said in a news release that he hopes those at risk — and their friends and family members — will keep naxalone on hand and learn how to use it.
Last year, an estimated 600 Long Islanders fatally overdosed, and an additional 1,200 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties were revived from overdoses with naloxone, officials said. In 2016, more than 42,000 Americans died of opiate overdoses, more than any year on record. Those deaths were among the 63,600 fatal drug overdoses overall that year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Noting that more than half of opioid overdose deaths occur at home, Adams urged those who use opiates for pain or who are addicted — and those close to them — to have ready access to naloxone, also known by its brand names Narcan or Evzio, which can restore breathing if injected or administered as a nasal spray.
It was the first general public health advisory issued by the Surgeon General since 2005 when an advisory about prenatal exposure to alcohol was issued.