Police take it on patrols. Paramedics keep it in the ambulance. Some families even have it in their medicine cabinet.
The opiate-blocking drug Naloxone is becoming more widely-used, whether in the form of a nasal spray or an injection to inhibit the effects of an opiate when a person is overdosing.
Reversing an overdose
Jason Jerry, M.D., an addiction specialist at Cleveland Clinic said that although Naloxone has saved lives, it shouldn’t be viewed as a cure for opiate or heroin addiction.
“It’s a tremendous lifesaver, but I think people also need to realize that it’s not treatment,” said Dr. Jerry. “Just because we bring somebody back from an opiate overdose, we still need to address the issue of, ‘hey, you need to get into treatment,’ and learn how to get them into long-term recovery to learn how to stay sober.”
Dr. Jerry said Naloxone has been around for quite a while and had been used in emergency rooms prior to becoming available to the public.
Naloxone works by blocking receptors in the brain so that if someone is overdosing, it will reverse the effects of the overdose.
Most drug stores now sell the FDA-approved kits that can be purchase over-the-counter.
Chance for real treatment
Dr. Jerry said it’s important for people who buy Naloxone to know that it exists to keep their loved ones around another day so that they can take the opportunity to get the help they so desperately need.
He said that people need to understand that just because they have Naloxone on their side, it doesn’t mean that sooner or later something isn’t going to happen where a person can’t be brought back.
Because Naloxone has become readily available, many have expressed concern that the access will just give addicts a safety net and that it will make it easier for them to continue to abuse. Dr. Jerry said that simply isn’t the case.
“Research has been done on that issue and has shown that there is no correlation between the availability of Naloxone and an increase in heroin or opiate use,” said Dr. Jerry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Naloxone reversed more than 10,000 overdoses between 1996 and 2010.