The medication, naloxone, is an antagonist drug used to revert an opioid overdose. Of the approximated 130 Americans who die everyday due to a drug overdose, 60 percent are opioid related. In the event that a person overdoses on heroin or prescription opioid medication, naloxone can be injected into the individual, which will quickly reverse the overdose by blocking the opioid’s effects from reaching opioid receptors in the brain and return one’s breathing rate back to normal. Since being approved, naloxone has successfully saved countless lives that would have been taken by an opioid overdose. Although this drug is effective at reviving a person who is overdosing, it is important to understand that this drug is only a rescuing tool used in an emergency.
Naloxone is not a form or treatment and does not serve as a method for recovery. Oftentimes, many individuals who are addicted to or abuse heroin and prescription opioids medications suffer from more than one overdose during the time period of their drug use. Naloxone may be able to save people from experiencing a fatal overdose, but more often than not, people will continue to use these drugs. As a result of this, it is vital for people to seek treatment following the administration of naloxone for an opioid overdose. Naloxone can either be injected or used as a nasal spray.
The most commonly used form of naloxone is its injectable method, which can be inserted into either a vein, upper arm muscles, or thigh muscles. Once administered, it can take up to three minutes for breathing to be restored. If the individual does not show any signs of improvement and does not begin breathing, an additional dose of naloxone must be given. Because naloxone has become widely recognized for its lifesaving potential, the drug became more easily accessible to the public this year. Not only are more members of the medical workforce and law enforcement, such as policemen, ambulance officers, practitioners, and even school nurses, required to have more naloxone on hand, but the drug can now be purchased at local pharmacies as an over the counter. These individuals working in the medical field and law enforcement are also now receiving training for what to do in the event of an overdose and how to properly administer naloxone.
Thousands of lives are expected to be saved each year due to the increased availability of naloxone. However, this antidote only saves lives in the occurrence of an opioid overdose, and does nothing to stop the person from using again. Once injected or sprayed into the nasal cavity, naloxone will only remain in the person’s systems for up to an hour and a half, whereas opioids can remain in the system for more than 12 hours. As a result of this, the person will likely begin to experience severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, causing the individual to want to use again. This only further supports the fact that comprehensive treatment must be sought out after naloxone is used to revive someone suffering an overdose.
Measures, such as the Overdose Prevention Act, have been taken to decrease the chances of a second overdose, as well as get the addict the proper treatment he or she needs. Bills such as this one will notify family members and care physicians of the individual who experienced a non-fatal overdose due to naloxone, and contact the doctor who may have prescribed opioid medication to the individual. After reporting to all parties, the victim of the overdose will be directed towards an addiction treatment facility that specializes in treating heroin addiction and prescription opioid addiction. Naloxone is not a solution to opioid addiction, and only serves as a temporary tool to stop an overdose from resulting in a fatality.
If your loved one abuses substances or has developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is crucial that you get them into treatment before his or her condition worsens or before an overdose happens. Most importantly, if your loved one uses heroin or opioid prescription medications and experienced an overdose that required naloxone in order to revive them, it is imperative that you immediately intervene and get them into a medical detox program followed by long-term treatment. Naloxone may be able to save thousands of lives from an overdose, but comprehensive treatment will ensure people remain alive by achieving and maintaining lifelong sobriety.
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