It’s hard to imagine how much deadlier the American opioid addiction epidemic would be if it were not for naloxone. Often sold under the brand name Narcan, naloxone is a drug that can reverse the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose.
If the naloxone is administered in a timely fashion, lives are saved. Since the late 1990s, naloxone has saved thousands and thousands of lives, both young and old Americans alike. The life-saving drug is a miracle worker by any standard, which is why every first responder in the country has a naloxone kit on hand at all times.
We must also note that addicts and their friends and families keep naloxone close by in case of an emergency. What’s more, many people living with an opioid use disorder owe a debt of gratitude to naloxone for allowing them to find recovery. Naloxone gives people a second chance they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
In recent years, federal and state legislation has made it easier for citizens to acquire the overdose antidote. Sadly, there was a time not long ago when a prescription was required to acquire a dose of naloxone. Previously, if someone lacked a prescription, then they were at the mercy of a fast response from paramedics, and that’s assuming someone else was present to call 911.
Even still, seeking recovery is the only sure way to protect against a fatal overdose. Naloxone is not always effective when powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl or carfentanil are involved. Moreover, if an overdose involves other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines, a dose of Narcan may not produce the desired outcome.
Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths in America
While reports indicate that overdose deaths were down in 2018 from the previous year, the daily death toll is still unacceptable. More than 100 Americans succumb to an overdose every day; that number would be much higher if not for naloxone, without question. Still, some states are reticent to pass legislation that would allow for the sale of naloxone over the counter (OTC).
If the drug is made more available, it saves lives and opens the door for someone to seek treatment. An overdose is a traumatic event that could be likened to hitting bottom. Some individuals are more receptive to the idea of treatment in the hours following an overdose.
Research shows that doing away with prescription requirements is a priority. When legislation is passed to that end, addicts and their loved ones will utilize the freedom to purchase the life-saving drug.
A team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati report in JAMA Network Open that naloxone dispensing in Ohio increased dramatically since 2015, according to HealthDay. After Ohio lawmakers passed legislation allowing pharmacists to sell naloxone OTC, there has been a 2,328% increase in naloxone dispensing across the state.
“Overdoses are not a planned event so during an emergency is not the time to try and access naloxone,” said lead researcher Pam Heaton. “The intent is for any adult to be able to go to a pharmacy and purchase naloxone for themselves or for anybody who might need it, so they are adequately prepared to administer a life-saving medication.”
Naloxone Nasal Spray is Easy to Administer
Since the advent of a naloxone nasal spray, even a child can administer the overdose antidote with limited training. William Eggleston, clinical assistant professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and colleagues at SUNY Upstate Medical University conducted a study on administering naloxone, HealthDay reports. The professor reported that most participants were able to deliver the drug after watching a short training video.
In a new study, Eggleston sought to determine if he would get the same results if participants had no training at all. He had groups of participants test all three available methods for administering the antidote: nasal spray, intramuscular shot, and a nasal atomizer kit.
Eggleston found that participants were able to administer the nasal spray faster than the other two methods; the median administration time was 16 seconds. The atomizer took the longest because it comes in three pieces that require assembling.
“People may not realize how important it is to provide training on how to administer naloxone,” Eggleston said. “But when someone is not breathing, every second counts. If naloxone becomes available over the counter, our study highlights the importance of training resources, like pharmacists, public health campaigns and community resources. It also shows that the nasal spray product is the most intuitive to use and easiest to give quickly.”
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in California
If you or a loved one survived an overdose recently, then today is the ideal opportunity to reach out for professional assistance. Those who survive one overdose are exponentially more likely to experience another, and the outcome could be fatal.
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we help adult men and women take the first step toward a life in recovery from opioid use disorder. Please contact our admissions team today to learn more about our chemical dependency rehabilitation hospital.