Over approximately the past twenty years, opioids have become one of the most commonly used and abused drugs. With so many prescription opioids being prescribed, it has become much easier for people – both those who’ve been prescribed the medication, and those who have not – to get their hands on them.
With the uptick in usage, a consequential uptick in overdose deaths has also been noted. High risk opioids like fentanyl are causing many overdoses, so it’s no surprise that this is a growing problem. Thankfully, the FDA has been working to design and approve naloxone, a medication used to quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
What is naloxone?
Naloxone, while not a cure or treatment for opioid addiction, is a medicine that can be used in the event of an emergency to quickly reverse opioid overdose effects. It can return someone’s breathing back to normal if it has been slowed or even stopped.
It is important to note – naloxone only works on opioids, and is not effective on other drugs.
Naloxone works as an opioid antagonist. Drug antagonism is the interaction of two drugs that have an opposite effect on the body, usually where the one drug reduces or blocks the effects of the other. Such is the case with naloxone – it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, reversing their effects and blocking from any further opioid interaction.
How to use naloxone
Naloxone is often used by first responders and emergency personnel – it gives them the chance to stall the effects of overdose in order to get the individual to the hospital on time. While they have received naloxone training, anyone can, in fact, be trained to administer naloxone. Those with a loved one battling opioid addiction are often encouraged to attend training and keep naloxone on hand at all times.
Naloxone is administered through two methods, an injection or a nasal spray.
Injectable naloxone must be drawn up from a vial and injected into the muscle, vein or skin. FDA approved brands of naloxone can be found in the FDA Orange Book under “naloxone;” additionally, Zimhi™ was recently approved by the FDA as a single-dose, pre-filled vial that can also be safely administered.
Naloxone nasal spray is used as a single-dose nasal spray administered simply by spraying into the nostril of an individual laying on their back. This method is easily done by family members or other present individuals who do not have formal training on injectable naloxone. Approved nasal spray brands are generic naloxone, Narcan® and Kloxxado®.
Once administered, naloxone works for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half; however, many opioids remain active in the body for longer. For this reason, it is crucial to the safety of the individual that 911 is contacted and they are taken to a hospital as quickly as possible as the overdose effects can return once naloxone has worn off.
Where can I receive naloxone training?
If you have a family member or loved one struggling with opioid addiction, it is advisable to seek out naloxone training. Not only will you then be able to have naloxone on hand, you will be able to administer it as necessary in the event of an emergency.
A number of resources online provide easy and accessible naloxone training and education, including:
In addition to training, it’s important to have naloxone on hand if opioids are in your home, or even if you live in a community where usage is prevalent. Thankfully, many pharmacies carry naloxone, making it easily accessible to all.
And while no one wants to be in a situation where it’s necessary to administer naloxone, having the training and the means necessary to administer it can mean the difference between life and death.
Even though naloxone is beneficial in reversing an overdose, it doesn’t provide the treatment needed to overcome an opioid addiction. If you or a loved one are concerned about addiction or interested in seeking further detox and treatment, contact Freedom Detox today. We offer personalized treatment plans and medically-assisted detox to provide comfort and strength in recovery.
Call our offices at 800-475-2312 or visit our website anytime to learn more.