How Naloxone Is Saving Lives in Colorado
Every 9 hours and 24 minutes there is a fatal overdose in Colorado. Over half of all overdose deaths are caused by opioid drugs, many of which are medically prescribed to relieve pain such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or fentanyl. It also includes heroin, which has seen a rise in use for its cheap cost as opposed to its prescribed counterparts.
With physicians prescribing opioids more freely since the early 90s, the number of addiction and overdose deaths have risen at an alarm rate. In an overdose situation, many times emergency workers cannot get to the patient in time to administer Naloxone, a the drug that has proven itself the only hope of someone who has overdosed.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication that prevents opioid overdose. In an overdose, the user typically dies from a lack of oxygen because the drug dampens the respiratory system. Naloxone obstructs the opioid brain receptor sites, allowing the individual to breathe again.
The life-saving benefits of Naloxone in an emergency situation greatly outweigh the side effects. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, Naloxone is relatively safe to use, the main concern being the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including:
- Feeling nervous, restless, or irritable
- Body aches
- Dizziness or weakness
- Diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea
- Fever, chills, or goose bumps
- Sneezing or runny nose in the absence of a cold
Naloxone is prescribed under two names based on how it is administered:
- Narcan ® – a prepackaged nasal spray
- Evzio ® – a prefilled auto-injection.
The Naloxone Difference
Although many who are addicted to opioids have been able to find a qualified rehab in Colorado, there have been too many who have lost their lives in the battle with dependence. For many years, Naloxone was only available in emergency rooms and eventually to first responders as opioid overdose became more rampant. It has quickly become clear that this was not enough to get Naloxone in the hands of those who really need it.
The Colorado Senate passed Bill 15-053 which allows a physician to prescribe standing orders of Naloxone, meaning that the prescription is not specific to any particular patient.
As a result of this law, the Chief Medical Officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued a standing order for the whole state. In other words, Naloxone is now available to anyone who needs it.
The Public Health website notes that with these standing orders, pharmacies and harm reduction organizations can now provide Naloxone to those who might benefit from it the most, including:
- A family member, friend, or other person in a position to assist a person at risk of overdose.
- An employee or volunteer of a harm reduction organization.
- A first responder.
- An individual at risk of overdose.
Our qualified rehab in Colorado offers overdose prevention programs and can explain more about the use of Naloxone in treatment and overdose prevention. We will be able to offer training on how to safely administer the drug in an emergency situation. Also, any Coloradan in need of Naloxone can visit http://stoptheclockcolorado.org/ to find a pharmacy where they can get the life-saving drug without a prescription.
To learn more, or to find out how we can help, please contact us.