Naloxone, also known as Narcan or Evzio, is an antidote to an opioid overdose. When someone overdoses on drugs like heroin or hydrocodone, breathing slows down and can stop altogether.
Naloxone is known as an opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists bind to receptors in the brain, reversing and blocking the effects of the drugs. The drug works quickly to help someone who is overdosing breathe normally again. Narcan is available in a nasal spray and as an injection.
Medical professionals and researchers currently debate about whether naloxone should be available to the public without a prescription. Though the drug saves lives, some fear that public availability will further drug use. Let’s review the pros and cons of the argument for a clearer picture.
Opioid use has risen in recent years due to the prescription painkiller epidemic. Prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone are highly dangerous. Overdose deaths related to any opioid, including prescription medications, rose from 18,515 in 2007 to 47,600 in 2017.
Opiate abuse often leads to heroin addiction, as heroin is a cheaper alternative. Since users often take heroin via IV, this dramatically increases someone’s chances of overdosing. Heroin can also be laced with fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin. Overdose deaths involving heroin skyrocketed from 2,399 in 2007 to 15,482 in 2017.
In response to the epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration had been working to make naloxone more available to the public. Other public health officials and entities, including the Surgeon General, have advocated for naloxone as well.
They also support widespread distribution and education on how to administer Narcan. Yet, many believe that making naloxone available without a prescription could worsen the problem. It may even create a whole new one. This divide has sparked a heated debate and kept the issue at a standstill.
Each second is precious during an overdose. Once respiratory arrest sets in, the risk of death increases. Naloxone availability would give people the ability to prevent a loved one’s death while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. The following positives have been documented and researched:
It’s also worth noting that one can currently buy naloxone in pharmacies in some states without a prescription. In most states, family members and loved ones are allowed prescriptions for the medication.
There could be drawbacks to making naloxone available to the public. There are also several arguments against making naloxone available without a prescription.
There are strong counter-arguments to these points as well. Many of the cons related to increased crime assume that drug abusers are untrustworthy and perpetuate crime. On the other hand, it’s worth considering that negative outcomes are certainly possible. Naloxone alone will not fix the epidemic.
Now that you’ve reviewed the research, it’s easier to take an informed stance. Should the life-saving antidote be available over the counter, or is there validity to the arguments against it?
If you or a loved one is struggling with opiate addiction, don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help. Contact Clarity Way today to learn about how we can get you on the path to sober living.
Posted on July 31st, 2012 in Help Blog