This nation’s opioid epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. A recent report from the CDC reveals that more than 42,000 people lost their lives due to opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. Death rates from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl nearly doubled. One of the recommendations by the CDC was to protect people with an opioid use disorder by expanding addiction treatment and the availability of naloxone. The U.S. Surgeon General agrees and has issued an advisory about this valuable drug.
U.S. Surgeon General Issues Advisory on Naloxone
On April 11, the Surgeon General issued a statement on opioid overdose and naloxone. According to the statement, the rapid increase in opioid overdose deaths is primarily related to dangerous synthetic opioids. Some of these are being mixed with other drugs such as heroin and pressed into tablets to resemble commonly abused drugs like Xanax. This is resulting in a spike in overdose deaths.
Another factor that is leading to higher overdose deaths is that some people who are taking opioids for pain are receiving these drugs in higher doses than in the past. This creates an added danger, particularly when these drugs are mixed with alcohol or benzodiazepines, both of which will compound the sedating effects of these drugs.
For these reasons, the Surgeon General recommends that there be increased availability of naloxone in the U.S. to help reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. The recommendation is that health care providers, first responders, community members, and family and friends of those who use opioids have this life-saving drug on hand and know how to use it.
How Naloxone Helps Reverse Overdoses
Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. It is an opioid agonist, which means that it binds to the brain’s opioid receptors and can block or reverse the effects of other opioids. A person that is overdosing can have their depressed breathing rate restored with this fast-acting medication.
Naloxone is available in generic form and several approved formulations. There is injectable naloxone that requires professional training, an auto-injection device (called EVZIO®) that is simple to use, and a prefilled nasal spray (called NARCAN®) that is designed to give a single dose upon delivery. Depending on where you live, a physician may need to prescribe naloxone, or you may be able to buy it at a local pharmacy without a prescription.
Where to Get Addiction Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
If you are abusing opioids, you run a high risk of overdose, and there is no guarantee that someone will be there to administer naloxone. Too many people are losing their lives to opioids, and becoming just another statistic would be tragic. Living life without drugs may seem impossible at this moment, but some professionals can help you meet this challenge with their experience and compassion.
The Recovery Village offers comprehensive addiction treatment for opioid use disorder and will design a program to meet your particular needs. From medication-assisted therapy to group therapy to aftercare, our goal is to help you break free from opioid addiction and build a solid foundation for a fulfilling life in recovery. Contact us now to speak with one of our addiction experts about your options.