Do EMS scare tactics help an opioid addict?

EMS1 readers want EMS providers to focus on providing information on rehabilitation centers and where to get help


By EMS1 Staff

An EMS agency in Pennsylvania is taking a new approach to handling overdose victims. The 'One Breath from Death' campaign serves as a warning of how close an overdose patient came to dying. The blue cards ask patients for their preferred funeral home and emergency contact information.

We asked EMS1 Facebook fans if they thought West End Ambulance Service's method will work.

The card requests that patients fill out the card if they plan to continue using drugs, as
The card requests that patients fill out the card if they plan to continue using drugs, as "we may not make it there next time for your last breath." (Photo/West End Ambulance Service)

Do you think this scared straight approach is helpful or harmful? Sound off in the comments.

1. "I say go for it. There is no such thing as too morbid when you're trying to save a life. I briefly considered handing an OD we got back a body bag and asking her if she wanted to try it on for the future. I ultimately decided against it."  — Jessica Shelton

2. "It’s a harsh reality check. Some may see it as heartless, but they (addicts) truly don't understand how bad off they are or how close they really come to dying." — Jessie Deyerle 

3. "I don't think it will help. Addicts don't care about risks or close calls. Addicts are only concerned with getting high. Addiction is a chemical process. Lectures have never cured an addict. Information on where to get help with addiction would be more useful or perhaps start a program to make addiction help more accessible." — James Stephen Degnan 

4. "It can't hurt but it won't help. The people that come up with these ideas have no idea what goes through the head of an addict. When they need a fix, the only thing on their mind is the fix at any cost." — Brian Fox

5. "Love this. It's sad that it even had to be thought up but I'm all for giving them a dose of reality. People need to wake up. We get one shot at this gift called life." — Carla Koons

6. "We are told to not judge or embarrass the patient. To be honest, we shouldn't. It's the family's or a doctor's job." — Dee Cannon

7. "I hope it works. I ask my non-complaint diabetic teens which limb they want amputated first and challenge them to go a day without using that limb. It works with some. Hope this will help with some of your patients." — Nicole Gray

8. "The evidence suggests that shaming/scaring an addict does not work and only causes them to be on the defensive. Perhaps they should spend their money on cards with information on rehab centers in the area and how to contact them." — Tom Winkler 

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