KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Washington tells teens to carry Naloxone, yet won’t criminalize drug use

May 8, 2023, 5:59 PM | Updated: May 9, 2023, 9:41 am

Washington drug use...

Police find a man who reportedly took both fentanyl and meth. (Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

Washington Democrats refuse to criminalize drug use and, instead, ask teens to carry Naloxone to combat opioid overdose. It’s a sad state of affairs when the state cedes a campaign to treat drug addiction in teenagers.

The Washington State Health Care Authority (WSHCA) recently launched the Friends for Life campaign. It encourages teens to carry Naloxone and instructs them when to use it to save the life of someone suffering an overdose. Rather than do what they can to treat addicts, Democrats continue to approach the crisis via a “harm reduction model,” which effectively enables addicts to continue their deadly behavior.

Fatal drug overdoses continue to skyrocket across Washington state. In King County alone, there have already been 463 fatal overdoses, putting the county on pace to exceed last year’s record high of 1,000 deaths. Led by lame-duck governor Jay Inslee, the Democrats who have total control at the state level refuse to take the drug crisis seriously. Their soft-on-crime policies are largely to blame for the preventable deaths; their reluctance to make illicit drug possession and public use a crime is making the situation worse.

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A naïve and deadly strategy on Washington drug use

The campaign’s website offers a “Partner toolkit” so that a teen can “keep each other safe and end opioid overdose deaths.” The site reminds teens of the state’s Good Samaritan laws, which protect individuals from prosecution for drug possession when seeking emergency medical help during an overdose. It offers informational flyers to print out and buttons to wear indicating “I carry Naloxone.” No teen will do either of these things.

There are also videos explaining how to recognize an overdose and then administer Naloxone.

The explicit goal of the WSHCA campaign is to treat opioid overdose. It does not even mention treatment as the best way to prevent overdose death. How can drug treatment not play even a minor role in every campaign around illicit and deadly drug use? It’s an intentional and deeply flawed strategy. You’ll almost never get much from local Democrats on drug treatment because of a left-wing ideological belief that it might stigmatize the drug user and prevent them from seeking treatment. Their position may be well-intentioned, but it’s naïve and deadly, especially since it extends well beyond instances of teens who accidentally consume fentanyl.

Try communicating with a homeless addict about whether or not they feel stigma. They don’t feel much of anything when either high or craving their next hit. They will never be ready for treatment and require a more meaningful approach — like one that involves the criminal justice system. Pretending otherwise will just ensure the inevitability of their overdose death or wasted life living on the street. And any campaign, be it for teens or homeless adults, that ignores treatment isn’t merely destined to fail. It reinforces the message that drug treatment isn’t necessary or available.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Washington tells teens to carry Naloxone, yet won’t criminalize drug use