Naloxone has become a key tool in curbing overdoes resulting from the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic. The class of drug that includes prescription painkillers and heroin was involved in a record 28,648 deaths in 2014, and opioid overdoses have more than quadrupled since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently released inmates are particularly vulnerable.

Naloxone supporters say the opportunity to save potentially thousands of lives outweighs any fears that the promise of a nearby antidote would only encourage drug abuse. Officials already widely distribute the drug to police, paramedics, drug users and their families.

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