The use of Naloxone can save a life. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is an opioid antagonist used in opioid overdoses to counteract the life-threatening depression of the respiratory system. It allows an overdose victim to breathe normally.
Although traditionally administered by emergency response personnel, naloxone can be administered by lay people or public, making it ideal for treating heroin and other opioids overdoses. The training is simple and use of Naloxone results in a life saved.
Here is what occurs in an opioid overdose. When too much of any opioid, like heroin goes into too many receptors, the respiratory system slows and the person breathes more slowly, then not at all. Because Naloxone basically knocks the opioids out of the opiate receptors in the brain, the overdose is reversed and the person is able to breathe again.
However, it is a temporary drug that will wear off in 30-90 minutes and the person should be watched for signs of continued overdose. The overdose victim must seek medical assistance or call 911.
Lack of oxygen from opioid overdose may lead to brain injury in as little as 4 minutes, yet the average EMS response time is 9.4 minutes. Seconds can count during an opioid overdose so it is vital if you have a loved one or friends who use, you need to have a plan in place. Most life threatening opioid emergencies occur in the home, witnessed by friends or family.
Brand names of Naloxone are Evzio, Narcan injection, Narcan Nasal Spray. They all come with simple, lifesaving directions and are easy to administer. Upon purchase, read and know how to use these devices and keep them readily available.
Some states have a third-party law where a concerned parent, employee or nurse at a school can obtain Naloxone and administer it without facing legal repercussions (known as the good Samaritan act). If you come in contact with a high-risk individual, you should have this lifesaving overdose antidote.
Ray P. Clauson
Narconon/New Life Retreat
Denham Springs, La.
Editor’s Note: In April 2015, Colorado passed a new law expanding access to the life-saving drug naloxone. As a result of the new law, a physician—or any medical professional with prescriptive authority—can write a standing order for naloxone that can be dispensed by other designed individuals (such as pharmacists and harm reduction organizations). With these standing orders, pharmacists and harm reduction organizations can now provide naloxone to those who might benefit from it the most, including: a family member, friend or other person in a position to assist a person at risk of overdose; an employee or volunteer of a harm reduction organization; a first responder; an individual at risk of overdose. In addition in Colorado, Walgreens has made naloxone available over the counter as well as installing prescription return boxes at many of their locations.