Naloxone, a drug designed to counteract any opiate overdoses, has become a major addition to first responders’ arsenals.
“This medication is our second, third and fourth line of defense against opioid overdoses,” said Dr. Clayton Kazan, medical director for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “Our first line of defense is always assisting the breathing of patients.”
Officials responded to 10 reports of opiate overdoses in a recent 48-hour span in the Santa Clarita Valley in California, and successfully saved nine by using this drug. One person died from their overdose.
Naloxone is available without a prescription in 30 states, including California. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the drug works by acting as an opioid antagonist, meaning that after it’s administered to the patient it binds to receptors in their brain to block and even reverse the effects of opiates.
“Naloxone ‘fights’ for the opioid receptors in the brain,” explained Dr. Kazan. “The medication binds to receptors so the brain stops taking in the other opioids.”
Once someone begins overdosing from an opiate, their breathing can slow to dangerous levels or stop entirely, putting them in a state that’s difficult to break out of. This drug can rapidly restore regular respiration, and is available in three forms: nasal spray, auto-injectable and injectable. Emergency room doctors, paramedics and other specially trained medical professionals use the injectable version, while the auto-injector is designed to be used by caregivers, and comes with visual and audio guidance. The nasal spray, which received FDA approval in 2015, is generally used by non-medical professionals.
At Schick Shadel Hospital, we are constantly working to help people recover from their addictions and reclaim control of their lives. Call us at (800) 272-8464 to speak with a member of our staff about the treatment options we offer, or send us a confidential message to tell us more about your situation today.