There is no doubt that we have seen nalaxone (also known as Narcan), the immediate antidote to opiate overdoses, save many lives here in New Jersey. So now that we’re all stoked about it, we’ve started thinking of new places to distribute it. The latest example is 1,200 doses being giddily doled our to New Jersey homeless shelters.

One cannot ignore the drawbacks of distributing it too freely. It’s possible that the risk of dying from an overdose actually stops people from getting high sometimes — that the risk of dying is why some people finally enter treatment. For instance, I know that if I were an addict, and I knew that I could get my “fix.”

While having the “fix” to any potential harm sitting right in front of me, there would be no question about my getting high right then and there. Narcan is a Godsend in an emergency distraction; in the middle of an overdose when first-responders are called to administer it. But if it’s too accessible, it’s a very slippery slope.

Having it sit there in a medicine cabinet the way people keep EpiPens in their homes sends an an opioid addict this message: You’ve got a free pass — one more time to get high and not worry about the consequences, your knight-in-shining-armor Narcan waiting patiently to rescue you. Before we start giving out Narcan like candy, let’s start thinking about the consequences of making the safety net so readily available. Let’s think about human nature: how many things might you do if there were no, risks? Maybe even no consequences at all?

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