For the millions of Americans who abuse opiates – either prescription painkillers or street drugs like heroin, overdose is a very real risk. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014.
A new medication has been developed in the past few years that reverses the effects of opiate overdose, and if given soon enough, saves the person’s life. It’s called Narcan, and it is being used by first responders, hospital emergency departments, and even family and friends to save those who otherwise would have fatally overdosed on opiates.
Narcan Saves Lives
Narcan is a narcotic antagonist, and it works by blocking receptor sites in the brain, reversing the toxic effects of opiates. It comes as either a nasal spray or injection that can be given in the muscle or under the skin. It usually starts working within minutes, and when used in combination with CPR, can restart the person’s heart and breathing.
This medication has been a true life-saver for many. In New York State, an estimated 1,500 lives were saved by the administration of Narcan (NY.gov) in 2015. When paramedics respond to an overdose call, they are trained and able to administer the medication immediately. Some families and friends who have loved ones that are addicted to opiates are also able to carry Narcan in case their loved one overdoses and there isn’t time to get the paramedics there. Several national pharmacies will now dispense the medication without a prescription.
Narcan Should Be Used with Caution
While Narcan does effectively save lives, caution must be used when dealing with this medication and with opiate addicts. First of all, this medication should not be a substitute for medical attention. If a person overdoses and their family gives them Narcan, the person should still go to the hospital and be evaluated and treated. Overdose is a serious issue, and should not be taken lightly just because it can in some cases be reversed.
Secondly, Narcan is not magic, meaning it can’t save everyone. By the time the person who has overdosed is found, it might already be too late to administer Narcan, and if the person used a combination of substances, Narcan might not be effective in bringing the person back.
Thirdly, having access to Narcan should never be an excuse for a person to continue in their addiction or to use opiates recklessly. Opiate addiction controls and ruins lives, taking a toll on the person’s health, relationships, finances, future, and the things they once enjoyed. Rehab is the only way to really help a person heal from opiate abuse.
Real Treatment for Opiate Addiction
If you or a loved one is abusing prescription painkillers, heroin, or any other substance, don’t let the damage continue to build. It is time to get help. Treatment for opiate addiction begins with detox, which can be managed with medication and supportive care. After detoxing, the person needs to go through therapy and counseling to understand the cause of their addiction and to develop skills needed to stay sober.
Sober Helpline can connect you with a rehab center that will effectively treat your opiate addiction, so that you don’t have to worry about overdose. Contact us at (888) 907-8039 today.