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Crime and Courts


Cleveland drug court to give overdose drug to Heroin addicts
Judge hopes the effort could save lives
Story by JOANNA RICHARDS


 
Judge Anita Mays says giving addicts Naloxene could save lives.
Courtesy of Cleveland Municipal Court
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As opiate addiction has risen, so have deaths from overdoses. There is an antidote that can save users from an overdose, and a Cleveland court is launching an effort to get it into the hands of drug users.
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Some emergency responders and addicts’ family members have access to naloxone, the drug that counteracts an overdose from heroin and other opiates. Now, the Greater Cleveland Drug Court is distributing the drug to 33 of its defendants.

They will take home kits of naloxone to use in an emergency for themselves or anyone else who might need it.

Drug Court Judge Anita Mays says she hears stories of overdoses too often. One of the defendants in her court recently had three friends die in a single weekend; a 21-year-old defendant said he had lost six friends in the last year.

"And so, it’s such a devastating thing, and just to hear that information, we said we have to try to do something else," Mays says.

The court has partnered with MetroHealth and other agencies to take advantage of state funding for the program. The kits are going to drug-court defendants who have relapsed and may be most at risk of an overdose. Users will have no legal repercussions for using the antidote.

MetroHealth and court officials say the drug is safe. There is no way to abuse it, and even a child can take large doses of it with no ill effects.

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