We have an epidemic on our hands (“Heroin: Life, Death, and Politics,” AJN Reports, May). As the number of people dependent on heroin and overdoses continue to increase, nurses must remove the stigma of addiction. We also need to remember the American Nurses Association's Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements1 and the principles that should be guiding our practice, such as the right of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and social justice.
We must encourage the implementation of harm reduction strategies that prevent unnecessary mortality, such as naloxone (Narcan) protocols that make this lifesaving drug available to those in need. Otherwise, we are doing harm. Naloxone saves lives and is the first step toward recovery. It's heartbreaking to hear a parent who's just lost a child say, “If only we had a second chance.”
By supporting legislation that puts naloxone in the hands of those who need it most, we are giving those addicted to heroin a second chance. We are saving lives. As nurses, this is our obligation.
Annie Lagoy, RN
1. American Nurses Association. Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements
. Washington, DC; 2001.