Naloxone: Saving Lives from Opioid Overdose
In 2020, 91,799 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, opioids were involved in 74% of those deaths. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid medications. Often given as a nasal spray, naloxone is safe and easy to use.
How Does Naloxone Work?
Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist, meaning naloxone binds to the same receptors as the opioid, displacing the opioid in the process and temporarily undoing its harmful effects. Giving naloxone rapidly reverses the effects of opioid drugs, restoring normal respiration. It can be administered by injection or through a nasal spray.
Why Carry Naloxone?
Nearly 50,000 people died from an opioid-involved overdose in 2019. One study found that bystanders were present in more than one in three overdoses involving opioids. With the right tools, bystanders can act to prevent overdose deaths. Anyone can carry naloxone, give it to someone experiencing an overdose, and potentially save a life. Naloxone will not harm someone if they are overdosing on drugs other than opioids, so it is always best to use it if you think someone is overdosing.
Know the Signs of an Overdose
- Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
- Falling asleep or losing consciousness
- Slow, weak, or no breathing
- Choking or gurgling sounds
- Limp body
- Cold and/or clammy skin
- Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)
Where Can I Find Naloxone?
Each state’s access laws vary. You can find out what your state’s laws are and how to access naloxone by visiting https://www.safeproject.us/naloxone-awareness-project/state-rules/.
Cordant can work directly with clients to deliver naloxone to patients receiving treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). Additionally, our pharmacists at Cordant Pharmacy Solutions™ and St. Matthews Pharmacy can provide the required counseling for patients to receive naloxone without a prescription, depending on state laws.