The U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 18,893 people died from prescription painkiller overdose and 10,574 died from heroin overdose in 2014 alone. Bills are being written and laws passed to help combat this onrush of death and destruction, and at the heart of many of these efforts is a life-saving drug called naloxone.

Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is an opioid antagonist that can reverse opioid overdoses. When someone overdoses on an opioid, the drug floods into the brain and binds to opioid receptors. Some of these opioid receptors are located on neurons that regulate breathing, and as the drug binds to these receptors, breathing slows and eventually stops, killing someone in a matter of minutes. This is where naloxone comes in.

Naloxone has a much stronger affinity to opioid receptors than heroin or painkillers, and knocks the drugs off of the receptors, keeping them from binding again. This reverses the overdose, pushes a person into withdrawal, and allows them to begin breathing again. Because naloxone is easy to administer, harm reduction advocates, drug rehab centers, and other addiction specialists are urging first responders to carry and use the drug to save lives.

Across the country, parents, police, lawmakers, and community members are clamoring to increase access to naloxone. Some Walgreens stores stock the drug, and in 2014, a law was passed in Pennsylvania that ensures every public high school carries naloxone kits. According to the Atlantic, naloxone saved 3,500 lives in Massachusetts over a 15-year period, and 10,000 lives nationwide. The president is also getting involved in the effort to provide naloxone on a wider scale. President Obama pledged $11 million this year to assist states in handing out naloxone and teaching people how to use it. The hope is that naloxone will decrease death by overdose, increase awareness of addiction treatment programs, and combat the deadly effects of this epidemic.

The people who most need naloxone in their arsenal? Drug users themselves. Overdose can cause death within minutes, before paramedics or police can reach the scene. Many community-based needle exchange or outreach programs distribute naloxone to active users and train them in how to revive themselves or using friends. Experts believe that equipping drug users with naloxone will help prevent further deaths and may assure that more people live to get the help they need in addiction recovery centers.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, please email or call our compassionate representatives today to learn about Intervention Drug Rehab Association, where clients recover in privacy and tranquility. By participating in group and individual counseling meetings, clients determine the root causes of their addiction, develop a warm and supportive network of sober peers and mentors, and gain essential tools for dealing with cravings and triggers. Please contact us today to get the help you need to end your addiction and find a sober, thriving life.

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