By Gretchen Hildebran & Leah Wolchok
Worth Saving Website
When Cheryl's mother overdosed on heroin, the friends she was shooting up with allowed her to die, rather than risk getting entangled with the police. Kai was luckier. When he suffered his most recent respiratory arrest, his friends got him to the hospital just in time. Overdose is the leading cause of death for the 15,000 injection drug users in San Francisco. The majority of these deaths are preventable. This compassionate short video follows two drug users through a groundbreaking program that teaches the signs of drug overdose, and the basic CPR needed to save lives. DOPE (Drug Overdose Prevention and Training) works in needle exchanges, shelters and SRO hotels, as well as with the police, addressing the needs of the often forgotten casualties of the 'war on drugs.' In conjunction with the city's Department of Public Health, the DOPE project takes the bold step of prescribing the opiate antidote Narcan (naloxone - usually only carried by paramedics) directly to drug users. Josh Bamberger, a DPH
spokesman, justifies this unusual and controversial approach as being consistent with a basic tenet of public health: harm reduction. When addicts have a chance to help save a life, he says, "They say 'Hey, maybe I'm not so bad after all. Maybe I'm worth saving.'"
Responding to critics who question whether it's worth saving people who may return to drugs and overdose again, Rachel McLean, DOPE's Project Director, says, "I just want people to stay alive long enough to change."
Purchase $129 DVD
Order No. QA-419
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-700-X
"For those in social work, nursing, or public health programs, this video looks at efforts to empower drug users to effectively prevent one another from overdosing and to gain insight into their own situation enough to try to change. Its short running time is an advantage for educational settings. Recommended for undergraduate health sciences and social work courses." Educational Media Reviews Online
Awards & Conference Screenings
First Place Winner, Reduction of Drug Related Harm
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