Opiate use is becoming the top leading cause of death, surpassing car accidents and gun violence. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were more than 70,000 deaths related to heroin use in 2017.
What many people don’t know is that there’s a readily available life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of opioids – Naloxone. Naloxone, often times referred to as Narcan, is a non-addictive drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in time. Naloxone is not a scheduled drug and has no potential to be misused. Naloxone works as an opioid receptor antagonist, meaning it binds to opiate receptors and reverses or blocks the effects of other opioids in the individuals’ system. The miracle drug can be administered by injection or nasal spray. Immediately upon administration, it reverses the effects of opioids; therefore, returning the users breathing back to normal.
Many wonder if Naloxone is safe; however, there has been no evidence of adverse effects. Furthermore, there are no adverse effects from using Naloxone if you have not used opiates.
Many paramedics, police officers, and health professionals are trained in Naloxone administration and can train friends, family and users to administer effectively. Yes, anyone can do it! In fact, Naloxone can be purchased without a prescription in many pharmacies, in many states. The majority of states allow prescribing and dispensing of the drug to family, friends and those prescribed opioids or suffering from opioid use disorder.
After Naloxone is administered it is essential that the bystander call 9-1-1 as the effects of the drug only remain active in the body for 30 – 90 minutes, which may be less time than the effects of the opioids last; therefore, the individual could stop breathing again.
Many states have a 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Law that protects and encourages bystanders to utilize naloxone in a situation. Friends or family members who may be using with the individual, fear arrest and do not call 9-1-1 or get medical help, causing unnecessary deaths. This new law protects friends and family who seek help or call 9-1-1 for individuals needing medical attention. They are protected by this law if small amounts of drugs are found (less than 3 grams).
To find Naloxone in your area, click here.
There are many agencies that will train you to become Naloxone Certified and provide samples in order to keep yourself, loved ones, or anyone who abuses opiates safe from the effects of drugs.
To find the nearest provider to you visit click here.
Author: Stephanie Pruefer, LPC, CADC – Footprints to Recovery – Primary Counselor