If you think America’s opioid epidemic isn’t a California problem, think again. Last Thursday, our backyard neighbor Santa Barbara saw a tremendous spike in overdose admissions at their local hospitals. Nine college age youths were treated for symptoms after attending a party near the local university.
By all accounts, OxyContin appeared to be the primary culprit behind this string of OD’s. Several 20-somethings at the scene claimed that their friends had been creating a dangerous mix of pain pills and alcohol.
The first reported case came early in the night and involved a young man unconscious in the back seat of his car. As the night went on, others were discovered passed out in homes near the campus. Amazingly no deaths occurred, thanks primarily to the reversal drug naloxone (which was administered at the scene).
As of this week, only one of the nine men remains hospitalized. The others were treated, released and ordered to give statements about their activities that night.
If you ask us, a story like this illustrates both the best and the worst when it comes to America’s opioid epidemic. On the one hand, it is a shining example of how trained responders can save lives when they can encounter an overdose.
Not only is arming them with the proper tools essential (like naloxone and the Narcan spray, which was also used to aid victims), giving them training to administer these agents is critical too. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department was extremely swift in their actions and knew just the right steps to take to save nine young lives.
“While deputies and officers were still on-scene, they learned that one of the victims had stopped breathing,” SB Sheriff’s Dept rep Kelly Hoover told a local outlet. “A sheriff’s deputy quickly sprung into action and administered a dose of his department issued naloxone nasal spray. The core mission of the Sheriff’s Office is to protect life, and the opportunity for our sheriff’s deputies to deploy naloxone within our local communities is directly saving lives.”
Now for the worst of the crisis. Hearing a story like this so close to home is truly alarming. What’s worse is how younger college students are now beginning to incorporate painkillers like OxyContin into their “party lifestyle.”
Mixing opioids with alcohol is an incredibly dangerous combination and a trend that we do not want to see gain notoriety. The deadly nature of these drugs needs to be publicized more, so naive, “experimental” young people don’t continue to put themselves in harm’s way.