Opioid crisis needs help from above

Most of us, whether Catholic or not, have heard the story of Saint Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941), the Polish saint who died in Auschwitz, a German death camp.

Father Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who volunteered to take the place of an inmate who was sentenced to death.

Because three unknown men escaped the death camp, the deputy commander of the camp selected 10 prisoners at random to die in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts.

After two weeks, Father Kolbe was the last one remaining in the bunker, and the impatient guards wanted to empty the bunker.

On Aug. 14, they gave Father Kolbe a lethal intravenous injection of carbolic acid, and the next day, his remains were cremated. Father Kolbe was canonized in October of 1982 by Pope John Paul II.

Because of his death by injection, he has become the patron saint of injection drug users.

As a community pharmacist practicing for 37 years, I have never seen any plague as we have seen with the opioid crisis.

Over 63,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. Not a person that I talk to doesn’t have a friend or family impacted by overdoses.

As pharmacists, we provide Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) to our patients with opioid addiction.

At the pharmacy that I work at, we provide Narcan (a reversal agent for opioid overdose) using Dr. Rachel Levine’s standing orders.

Levine is the Physician General of Pennsylvania who has orders for any pharmacist to dispense Narcan upon request by any patient. My staff and I are very proactive in giving this life-saving medication to our at-risk patients.

As a mortal doing what I can professionally to help this population of addicts by providing drug therapy, I also add another dimension.

Below my computer keyboard, I have a picture of St. Maximillian Kolbe and ask his intercession to help these struggling patients and to help me make appropriate decisions to help them.

Today — Aug. 14 — is the feast of this saint, and we should bow our heads and ask his intercession to help us with this opioid crisis.

We need all the help that we can get.

Peter A. Kreckel R.Ph. practices in Altoona.


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