Rehab and Drug Overdoses

By Dr David Laing Dawson

News item: Newly released inmates face higher risk of overdose death.

“The weeks immediately after release are a precarious time for former inmates. Job and housing prospects are usually bleak and drug tolerances are generally at a low point because of the relative scarcity of drugs in prison.”

This information is being used to support wider availability of the drug Naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdoses.

I am not opposed to the wider availability of Naloxone, but several things struck me about this report.

The first was the rather ambiguous statement about the “relative scarcity of drugs in prison.”

And the second was, “drug tolerances are generally at a low point.”

Yes.

And even with good jobs and excellent housing, every year a half dozen or so rock stars, musicians, actors, and other celebs die from overdoses of opioids. And always not long after a stint in rehab or otherwise imposed abstinence.

So while we need to do many things to help people with addictions, and help them survive and recover from those addictions, there is one very inexpensive and realistic thing we could do.

And that is tell, instruct, educate addicts when they are in jail, or in rehab programs that

  1. They are likely to relapse and
  2. When they relapse they will have lost their high tolerance to opioids, and the dose that previously gave them relief will now kill them. When they relapse they need to start with low doses, as if from the beginning of their use.

Maybe rehab programs already do this. I doubt it though, for it entails admitting probable failure.

If Philip Seymour Hoffman and Prince did not know this, how can we expect the average guy coming out of jail to know this?

This should be emblazoned on the walls of jails and rehab centers:

If you relapse, return to the same dealer, use the same dosage as before, it will now kill you.

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