Naloxone History Lesson
Naloxone is not a new medication. In fact, emergency responders have used the medication since the 1960s. Today, worried parents keep naloxone on hand, law enforcement officers carry the medication in case of life-threatening emergencies, and doctors prescribe the overdose antidote to patients taking opiate pain medications.
Thanks to the increased availability, the CDC reports more than 10,000 overdose reversals with naloxone by non-medical bystanders. Despite the recent push, however, there are still plenty of myths and misconceptions surrounding this medication.
Each and every day, approximately 100 people die from a drug overdose. With numbers like that, it should come as no surprise to learn that overdose deaths are now the leading cause of injury in the United States. In response, Attorney General Eric Holder has called for a serious expansion of prevention efforts. Heeding the call to action, naloxone – the one and only medication known to reverse the effects of opiates – has become a go-to prevention tool in the fight against opiate-related overdose deaths.
Myth #1: Naloxone Encourages Addicts to Take More Drugs
Truth: Research has shown that naloxone does not encourage more substance abuse. In fact, if anything, it decreases the use of opiates. When administered, naloxone blocks the effects of opiate drugs and causes an addict to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Myth #2: Naloxone Prevents Addicts from Seeking Treatment
Truth: There is nothing to indicate that naloxone discourages addicts from entering a rehab program. If anything, this is the one drug that can save addicts from certain death and offer them a chance to get professional help. The near-death experience often serves as a catalyst to get clean and sober.
Myth #3: Naloxone is Only Given by Syringe
Truth: Some people have a serious phobia when it comes to using needles. Fortunately, naloxone comes in alternate delivery forms. For example, Evzio is a kind of naloxone auto-injector that painlessly and easily delivers a life-saving dose of the medication. In addition to intramuscular injections, the overdose antidote can also be administered via an intranasal spray. The thing to remember is that the injectable form of naloxone takes effect much quicker than the nasal spray. If the signs and symptoms indicate a life-or-death emergency, giving the medication via syringe is a better option.
Myth #4: Naloxone is Expensive
As with most medications, the price of naloxone depends on where you purchase it. Additionally, most insurance providers will pay for this medication. Even without prescription coverage, naloxone is a relatively inexpensive drug and, even better, there are plenty of community outreach programs currently providing the overdose antidote for free.
Myth #5: Only Doctors Can Prescribe Naloxone
The FDA recently held a meeting to discuss what steps would be needed in order to increase access to naloxone on a national level. Though legal policies vary by state, most are already providing increased access to the medication. Doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are generally allowed to prescribe naloxone to patients who are at risk of an opiate overdose. What’s more, a variety of community outreach programs now provide access to naloxone.
If you or someone you know struggles with opiate addiction, help is available. Start by learning more about the latest treatment options.