According to the most recent data available from 2018, an average of 128 people in the United States dies each day from opioid overdoses. Mathematically, that works out to one death every twelve minutes from these drugs. This is an epidemic of epic proportions and it does not seem to be slowing down at a very rapid rate.
Twenty-one to twenty-nine percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and between eight and twelve percent go on to develop an opioid use disorder. Four to six percent of the people who misuse prescription opioids eventually transition to heroin.
In 2017, there were more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in our country, and 47,600 of them were caused by opioid use.
Although opioid deaths are slowly decreasing after government plans and action to end this epidemic, many people still die each day. It will take many years before our country’s battle against opioid misuse and addiction is even close to won.
Programs to help people struggling with addiction are growing, and there are many dedicated professionals working in the field. Education has helped to keep potential users from every starting to use. There is light, and there is hope.
In the meantime, people continue to overdose on a regular basis. Some are saved, but others die. Fortunately, the spread of information on and training in the administration of naloxone is helping immensely. This medication helps to reverse the effects of opioids in people who are overdosing and saves many lives each day.
Fortunately, naloxone is not only available for use by medical professionals. Police departments and even regular citizens are being trained in its use and this has resulted in many near miracles in rescuing people from near death.
Read on to learn all about naloxone and why it’s important that every responsible citizen get trained in its use.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is primarily sold under the brand name Narcan. Although there are other brands as well, the term Narcan is used almost interchangeably with the word naloxone by both regualr citizens and medical professionals. It is used to reverse the effects of opioids. When an opioid user begins to overdose, his or her breathing slows to a near stop. Naloxone works rapidly to help restore breathing and to thereby also keep the afflicted’s heart beating.
There are several ways that this drug can be administered. It can be given intravenously and it can be injected into the muscle. It can also be delivered through nasal spray. In all cases, it works quickly and the effects are noticeable after just a few minutes. Its effects fade after about a half an hour to an hour, so someone who has experienced an overdose may need multiple doses of naloxone to fully recover.
It’s not entirely a miracle drug, however. People who are opioid-dependent may experience nausea, vomiting, restlessness, sweating, and a fast heart rate when receiving naloxone. It can also cause heart problems. However, these are all issues that are much less terrible than death.
Naloxone is also one of two ingredients in Suboxone, a drug prescribed to people suffering from opioid use disorder who wish to break free from their addiction over time.
Many different organizations – both governmental and independent – now offer naloxone training to the public. In as little as twenty minutes, interested individuals can learn how to recognize an overdose as it is happening and how to use this drug to save lives. Naloxone is available over-the-counter in many places in the United States and around the world. Whether you know someone who uses opioids or not, it is advised that all interested parties get this training and keep naloxone on-hand for emergencies. You never know when you will encounter an individual who needs it, and emergency medical services may not be able to arrive quickly enough to help.
Most organizations that offer naloxone training to citizens also provide this training to institutions like the police, fire, EMTs, schools, offices, churches, and more. If you are part of a group that would like on-site training, a simple search online will connect you with a group that provides this service – often free of charge.
These programs will not only train interested parties in recognizing opioid overdoses and the way to administer this antidote, but they will also point you in the right direction for obtaining some to carry.
Get Trained to Use Naloxone & Carry It With You
Approximately one in five people who use heroin will have an overdose in a given year and about one in one hundred will die of an overdose. By participating in naloxone training and carrying naloxone, you could very easily save another person’s life.
Naloxone training is a no-brainer. Contact a local organization near you and get trained right away. You will be doing something that may save a life someday, with very little effort on your part. Do the right thing and get trained today.
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Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.