27 Aug NARCAN: Saving Lives During the Opioid Epidemic
Many Americans haven’t heard about the latest opioid antidote called Naloxone. This life changing drug is being used more and more often in nearly every state, to save someone who has overdosed on opiates. If you or a loved one are at risk of overdosing, keep within reach and know how to use Naloxone.
Pharmacists are allowed to dispense the drug without an individual prescription, making it much easier to get. Public Health officials are able to write “standing orders,” which are essentially prescriptions that cover everyone in their jurisdiction. Naloxone trainings are offered in each state, and in some states even required.
The drug can be administered as a nasal spray called Narcan or with an EpiPen-like auto injection. Either method is actually quite easy to use and is life saving. The American opioid epidemic killed over 72,000 people in 2017. That is more than HIV, AIDS and other drug related deaths. Making this medicine readily available to so many people is going to be a game changing key to prevent an even higher Opioid Related Death toll.
So how many people know about Naloxone and how accessible it is to the public, even without proper training? 59% of respondents in a 3,000 household survey taken by the surgeon general, said they were aware of the antidote and that it could be administered by anyone, 41% said that they were unaware.
In the same survey as mentioned above, people were asked if you needed to have a prescription for the drug, in order to obtain it. Shockingly, even with all the late media coverage on Narcan, the answers were almost evenly divided between yes and no.
For whatever reason, people continue to be misinformed about the fact they do NOT need a prescription at the pharmacy for them to be able to get a box of Naloxone. In Baltimore, Naloxone kits are being sold for $75 each by outreach workers. “There doesn’t seem to be enough Naloxone to go around,” observed on outreach worker in the area. That same worker stated that each week the outreach team takes stock of how many Naloxone kits are available to them for the rest of the fiscal year, the kits are given to the highest risk individuals and still, the outreach continues to come up short.
The survey also asked people about their willingness to administer the drug to an overdosing person they didn’t know. 68% of respondents said they would be willing to administer naloxone by the injectable Narcan. 22% of people said they would NOT be willing.
What is Naloxone?
The medication Naloxone, was designed to reverse opioid overdoses by rapid administration. The opioid antagonist binds to opioid receptors and actually can reverse and or block the effects of other opioids. It quickly restores normal respiration to the individual whose breathing is slowed and has completely stopped breathing all together as a result of overdose either on heroin or prescription opioid pain meds.
Naloxone can be given by injection, which requires professional training. The administration method requires the user to be trained on proper assembly and administration. Some of the devices have been recalled since 10/17/2016, noting that they may not deliver a fully automized plume of medication.
Is is also available as an Auto-injectable device that makes it extremely easy for families or other emergency personnel to use. The person administering the medication would inject Naloxone quickly into the outer thigh. Once the medicine is activated, the device provides verbal instruction to the user describing the step by step process of administration.
The third route of administration is by a Nasal Spray. This is a pre-filled, needle-free device which requires no assembly. The spray is administered into one nostril while the person overdosing lays on his or her back. Both the Nasal Spray method and the Auto-injecable method are prepackaged in a double dose box and are ok to use in a home emergency situation.
Side Effects of Naloxone
Narcan and or Naloxone is a safe medication which side effects only become noticeable to people who have opioids in their systems. The medicine doesn’t always cause noticeable withdrawal symptoms which may be uncomfortable, but are not life-threatening or as serious such as seizures etc.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Changes in blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
Naloxone is available at most compounding pharmacies all over the United States. You do not need a prescription to obtain the medicine, however costs may vary.
Miracle Recovery Center’s facility keeps 2 doses of Narcan on site and available in emergency situations at all times. All Miracle Recovery Center staff have attended and are professionally trained to use the medication effectively.