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New NV Law Aims To Curb Overdoses From Prescription Opioids

An overturned pill bottle shows a number of white pills on a counter.
Esther Ciammachilli

A new Nevada law is aimed at expanding care and increasing prevention of drug overdoses from prescription opioids. Reno Public Radio's Esther Ciammachili has more. 

The law is a response to the recent nationwide spike in fatal overdoses on prescription painkillers and other opioids like heroin. 

The act goes into effect on October 1 and will allow doctors to write third-party prescriptions for drugs like naloxone that counteract the effects of opioids. Dr. Karla Wagner is with the School of Community Health Sciences at UNR.

"So for example if a mother has a child who's in treatment of heroin use, and that child is coming home out of treatment, the mom could seek a prescription for naloxone to keep at home so she could deliberately use it on her child should the child relapse and overdose."

Another provision called the 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Protection will provide some immunity from low-level drug crimes for individuals who seek medical attention for an overdose. Wagner says people who are overdosing or witnessing an overdose often fear being arrested and fail to report these incidences.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1999, the amount of painkillers prescribed in the U.S. has quadrupled and overdoses from these drugs have quadrupled in lock-step. In Nevada, there are roughly 94 prescriptions for painkillers per 100 people.

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This map breaks down the number of painkiller prescriptions per 100 people in each state. Nevada and 15 other states are about average with between 82-95 per 100 people.

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This chart groups states into categories.

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.