La Crosse county is considering equipping police officers with Narcan. Currently, only paramedics carry the life-saving medication. A small number of police departments in the United States also equip officers with Narcan.
Narcan revives individuals overdosed on heroin. Heroin is an opioid, a class of drug that can slow the user’s breathing and eventually lead to death. The antidote reverses the respiratory depression, bringing the subject from an unresponsive state to being fully awake in under a minute. Narcan costs $25 a dose and has saved hundreds of lives.
The number of heroin users in La Crosse is at a peak. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 160,000 Wisconsin adults have used heroin or another opiate last year.
Tri-State Ambulance reports using Narcan 166 times last year. Tri-State Ambulance provides service for La Crosse, Trempealeau, Vernon, and parts of Monroe and Crawford Counties, as well as Houston and Winona Counties of Minnesota.
The AIDS Resource Center gives instruction to heroin users on how to use Narcan. It is feared by some that the life-saving medication will provide users with a safety net. Those opposed suspect that addicts will abuse the medication to get high without the possibility of fatal overdose. Others view the medication as a valuable investment.