Opioid addiction and deaths are on the rise. In 2016, 20,101 died from opioid overdoses. Movies like “Trainspotting” and now “Trainspotting 2” have brought some of the realities and problems of opioid use to the public eye, but perhaps glorify it unintentionally.
For whatever reasons are causing this trend, opioid overdoses on drugs like heroin continue to be one the rise. But, how does a doctor or a friend help someone with these addictions or even in the throws of an overdose?
A Safe and Tested Solution
A medication called Naloxone has been used since 1961 by paramedics and first responders in 28 states to reverse the effects ofdrug overdoses. Naloxone is administered either through the nose (intranasal), as an intramuscular injection, or intravenously.
In the United States, naloxone is classified as a prescription medication, but is not a controlled substance. While it is legal to prescribe naloxone in every state, dispensing the drug by medical professionals (including physicians or other licensed prescribers) at the point of service is subject to rules that vary by jurisdiction.
In most states, you can purchase naloxone from a pharmacist directly without getting a prescription from a doctor. In Australia, as of February 1, 2016, naloxone is now available over-the-counter (OTC) in pharmacies without a prescription. It comes in single use filled syringe similar to law enforcement kits. In Canada, naloxone single-use syringe kits are distributed and available at various clinics and emergency rooms.
Avoiding Long-Term Complications
The sooner an opioid overdose is treated, the better, because it’s not just death that is the worry, but permanent brain damage and other injuries related to overdose. Even if you are not sure if someone is suffering an opioid overdose, Naloxone has been found to be safe and would have no effect on anyone without opioids in their system. The benefits of increasing availability of naloxone outweigh the risks.
If you or someone you know has an opioid problem, get help as soon as possible in order to save their life.