By Donna Eget — Medical Director of Medicus Urgent Care
When people die of opioid overdose, it’s typically because these drugs shut down the respiratory center in the brain. People just stop breathing. Many times, help arrives too late, and the effects of drugs are irreversible. If there was a “magic bullet” to keep people alive until the opioids wear off, or an ambulance arrives, many of these deaths could be avoided.
Naloxone isn’t magical, but it has a lot of power. It’s a prescription medication that fills in “parking spots” in the brain called receptors, blocking access so opioids can’t get in. When given quickly after ingestion of opioids, this antidote is so powerful it knocks opioids out of receptors and reverses overdose, essentially bringing the dead back to life.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, laypersons using naloxone to reverse overdose saved 26,000 lives in an 18-year span.
Naloxone is safe and easy to use. Narcan, one brand of Naloxone, is administered as a spray into the nasal passage. It is also available as a shot given into the muscle (Evzio).
Thanks to a prescription written by Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, anyone in the commonwealth can get Naloxone at their pharmacy. And considering the astronomical number of opioid prescriptions in peoples’ homes, offices and purses, that’s not a bad idea.
At the very least, people at risk should have ready access to this live-saving medication. If you or a loved one have a prescription for opioids that you take every day, or someone you love is in recovery, go to your pharmacy and get a dose of Naloxone and keep it handy. Most insurances cover it, and it’s easy to administer. Most importantly, you can save someone’s life.
Article was originally published in The Abington Journal on November 5th, 2018 – Source