Naloxone is a medication that was developed to fight against opioid-related overdoses. The drug can be administered to anyone who is in the midst of an overdose and essentially reverse the effects of the drug, thus likely preventing the user from dying of an overdose. Over the last few years, more states have been equipping first responders with the drug to provide extra life-saving tools in the midst of the opiate epidemic.
Prior to the popularity of naloxone, police, often the first on the scene to overdose calls, had to wait until paramedics arrived with the antidote. This delay in help frequently resulted in the person succumbing to their overdose situation. Training police officers on how to administer the drug was a major step in the battle against drug addiction and drug overdoses. However, CVS has taken this step even further with their announcement that they will offer naloxone to customers without a prescription in New York.
This move will allow those close to addicts to have the prescription on hand if their loved one has a heroin or prescription painkiller overdose. This answer to overdoses will likely help to reduce the number of deaths associated with opiate addiction, though shouldn’t be viewed as a crutch to keep using. Hopelessness and helplessness are common emotions felt when someone close to you is suffering from addiction, simply having the overdose antidote on hand can alleviate a lot of stress associated with addiction and allow family members to make better decisions regarding the health of the addict.
Medication like naloxone is intended to save an addict’s life, but it certainly does not cure an addiction. Some people have spoken out against widespread use of naloxone, saying that it enables an addict to use more without the fear of repercussions. However, many experts say that beginning to reduce the amount of people dying from overdoses is a vital step in overall reducing the heroin and prescription painkiller addiction problem in this country.
“From a public health point of view and also from being a previous provider, it’s a great move because what’s happening is you’re removing that stigma. That sigma that addiction is something different. Addiction is a disease,” explained Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County Health Commissioner.
Right now, anything that helps to raise awareness about addiction and effective forms of treatment can be viewed as positive in the ongoing fight for recovery. This is true for individuals as well as communities.