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COVID boosts drug dangers among homeless

More chance of dangerous uncontrolled withdrawal
Posted at 7:06 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 22:06:23-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Coronavirus can lead to dangerous drug withdrawals in the homeless community. Activists, and a Tucson City Council member are working to make a powerful drug antidote more available.

At a time when more people are sheltered at home and seeing less of the world, it’s even easier to not see the people in our community who have no home but they can encounter some extra consequences of COVID.

Tucson Councilmember Steve Kozachik’s says COVID presents an extra danger to the homeless. Some of them are addicted to drugs but since Coronavirus, the price of street drugs has zoomed up. Homeless people can’t afford them--and they go into an uncontrolled withdrawal that can kill them.

Kozachik says, “The really immediate and important goal is to get Naloxone out in the streets so that when people in shelters, or police officers come across somebody who's detoxing, they can literally save a life by giving them a dose of the Naloxone.”

Naloxone, or Narcan is best known as an antidote to opioid overdose but it can block the possibly deadly effects of uncontrolled opioid detox.

The Federal National Institute on Drug Abuse says opioids and COVID can interfere with breathing; and hygiene challenges combined with poor health care make it easier for coronavirus to spread through the homeless community.

Kozachik says because homeless may live out of sight in secluded areas he’s working with shelters and assistance organizations that may find someone locked in a dangerous detox before police or ambulance crews.

“We have a lot of people doing outreach out into washes. Some of the encampments. And so it's really important that they have the access to this sort of antidote for when they do come across somebody who's detoxing.”

And that could head off another way COVID can kill.