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Benefits of naloxone in treating drug overdose

Benefits of naloxone in treating drug overdose

06-08 | CDAH Team

Opioids are consumed at an alarming rate by the American population. It is believed that Civil War veterans were the first to get addicted to opioids while being treated with morphine for the injuries of wars. Similarly, heroin, considered to be a “wonder drug” in its first clinical trials, took the form of an epidemic once addicts explored its intoxicating effects through injection.

However, not many options are available to save lives from opioid overdose. Naloxone, often referred to as “rescue shot,” is helpful in reducing the effects of opioid addiction and prevent overdose deaths. For a long time now, the drug has been used by healthcare professionals to reverse the effects of drug overdose over a long period of time.

Naloxone helps an overdose victim breathe normally. The best part about naloxone is that it can be used by minimally trained caregivers, which makes it ideal for treating overdose in people who have been prescribed opioid pain medication or who abuse heroin and other opioids.

Naloxone is not addictive and has fewer side effects

Opioids generally include painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs, such as heroin. They usually numb pain, create a sense of euphoria and also slow down breathing.

When a patient suffers from pain, neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, attach to the opioid receptors in the brain or other organs to benumb the sense of pain. However, when a person consumes large quantities of opioid medications to manage pain, naloxone can come into play by countering the opioids off the receptors and bringing back normal breathing.

With negligible potential for misuse, naloxone may be injected into the muscle, or squirted into the nose. Though its effect may subside in 20-90 minutes, it may take a number of doses when more powerful opioids, such as fentanyl, are involved. Studies have shown that naloxone is not addictive and has very few side effects.

Just as all medications have limitations, even naloxone is effective only in cases of opioids and cannot prevent an overdose from any other type of drugs. Since the effect of this drug does not last very long, it is meant only to rescue someone from an overdose till the time he/she is taken for medical attention.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said, “Many of opioid overdose deaths can be prevented by improving prescribing practices to prevent opioid addiction, expanding the use of medication-assisted treatment, and increasing use of naloxone for suspected overdoses.

Need for more take-home naloxone programs

Many people worldwide are trapped in the fatal opioid overdose problem, but only a few are able to receive proper medical attention. Naloxone can be a ray of hope to millions of people grappling with the devastating effects of opioids by helping reduce some of the morbidities.

It is a well-known fact that opioid overdoses can be effectively prevented by using naloxone and take-home naloxone programs can play an important role in overdose reversal. However, comprehensive training on how to prevent overdoses and react in cases of an emergency is an important step forward, apart from prescribing and dispensing naloxone. With the U.S. government’s initiative to eradicate opioid addictions and related deaths, take-home naloxone programs are now expanding to several regions in the country.

Road to recovery

No one falls into the trap of addiction by choice, be it of prescription drug or any other substance, yet it becomes difficult to get out of the web of addiction and lead a sober life. People seek treatment hoping that it would help them get back to their normal life. If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction, you may contact the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline for professional assistance. Our qualified representatives can recommend you one of the best addiction treatment centers in Colorado. You can chat online with us or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-218-7546 for more information.

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