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Letters: Naloxone training can save abusers’ lives

A kit with naloxone, also known by its

A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J. on Feb. 19, 2014. Credit: AP / Mel Evans


It’s too late for my son, Matthew Murr, to be saved, but I would like to share some vital information [“Losing the battle against heroin,” Editorial, April 24].

At a Nassau County heroin education summit in February, young people in recovery spoke of getting another chance at life by a civilian-administered nasal spray called Narcan, or naloxone, when they were overdosing. You can be trained and given a free kit to carry with you. Training dates are published on Nassau County’s website (

Others spoke of Vivitrol, a doctor-administered, non-addicting medication. Vivitrol is used to treat alcohol dependence or to help prevent opioid relapse.

A call can save a life. The Good Samaritan law protects a caller witnessing an overdose from being arrested if he or she has drug paraphernalia or has used drugs.

I wish continued success to everyone in recovery from this disease and a long, happy life.

Denise Murr, Garden City

Editor’s note: The writer’s son died of a heroin overdose in 2011.


From 2009 to 2013, heroin overdoses killed 465 people on Long Island. There’s a significant void in treatment after people are given naloxone after an overdose.

A person given naloxone should be followed with treatment and care. I don’t understand why officials don’t follow through.

I’m a pharmacist and became a naloxone trainer. We can be a force in preventing deaths from heroin or other opioid overdoses by training parents and friends of addicts. They then will be prepared to administer naloxone in case of an emergency.

After this step, there should be meaningful rehabilitation. It doesn’t have to be a losing battle.

James De Franco, Franklin Square

Editor’s note: The writer is a past president of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York.


As a gastroenterologist in practice for more than 30 years, I’ve observed significant changes in the approach to pain management. Pain should not be undertreated, but it’s a symptom and alerts us that there is an underlying problem.

In 1995, the American Pain Society characterized pain as the “fifth vital sign.” Unlike the other vital signs, pain is subjective.

Since then, I’ve seen a change in the use of narcotics. In hospitals, pain is often treated first and the cause investigated later. I’ve seen patients given narcotics for pain related to constipation, heartburn or diarrhea. Failure to address this subjective symptom is monitored by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, an independent, not-for-profit agency.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for a patient with an addictive personality to develop a problem. No one grows up wanting to abuse narcotics. As a society we must be cautious not to facilitate it.

Dr. Robert A. Klein


Editor’s note: The writer is the managing director of the Endoscopy Center of Long Island and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Hofstra Medical School.