According to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose in 2016, the most lethal year yet of the drug overdose epidemic. Over 100 people die of overdose in the United States every day. This national crisis has caused a record number of opioid-related overdose deaths.
As we search for a solution to the opiate crisis, a life-saving medication can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose. The drug is naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, which temporarily blocks opiate receptors and is used to prevent death caused by overdose. Recently, Demi Lovato was revived with Narcan after a suspected opioid overdose.
The medication is very effective in one dose but may require repeated doses, depending on the type of opioid used. Oxycontin is a slow-release opioid so a person who overdoses on that particular drug would need small doses. Naloxone should be given in small doses to a person who overdoses on heroin. When a full dose is given, the person may go into withdrawals immediately causing them to search for more heroin when they leave.
While naloxone is saving lives, critics say it is enabling an addiction. It can produce a false sense of normalcy and security around opiate use that extends the cycle of addiction. The medication can give a false sense of protection from the effects of opioid abuse.
Opioid addiction can lead to seizures, heart attack, and permanent brain damage. When a person overdoses on opioids, his or her breathing slows down, the heart can stop beating, and oxygen does not reach the brain. If the brain does not receive oxygen for more than four minutes, the person will have irreversible brain damage.
Many people do not know they are about to overdose. Naloxone saves lives and although it is a temporary solution, it gives people a chance to get treatment and turn their lives around. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, get help today. “Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.” ~ Brian Tracy
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