In a bid to curb the deaths caused by opioid overdose, the pharmacists of Iowa state will be distributing free doses of naloxone on June 29, 2018. The move comes on the initiative of the Iowa Department of Public Health, which intends to utilize $150,000 in federal grant to give away 2,000 kits of Narcan free of cost.
Sold as a nasal spray, Narcan has the potential to revive a person who has overdosed on heroin or a prescription painkiller within minutes. The drug breaks the process of suffocation caused by a narcotic overdose , thereby giving the patient time to reach a hospital or rehab for proper treatment.
More than 350 pharmacies in the state are expected to participate in the naloxone free distribution drive in their endeavor to save precious human lives. Normally, a single kit comprising 2 doses of Narcan costs around $140.
“Opiates take away the body’s natural drive to breathe. Narcan interferes with that process,” said, Mark McCulloch, deputy chief of Emergency Medicine Services in West Des Moines, which has witnessed an alarming rise in deaths due to opioid overdose from 10 people in 2010 to 48 in 2017. As per the Iowa Department of Public Health data, the state recorded 67 deaths due to overdose in 2016.
Need for opioid antidote
In the wake of the growing opioid overdose deaths, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams had issued a rare national advisory about a couple of months ago urging Americans to carry naloxone. Narcan is a widely recommended medication for rapid reversion of opioid overdose. The drug is designed to bind to the opioid receptors and block the effects of opioids. As a result, it enables an overdosed individual to breathe easily, who otherwise experiences slowed or stopped breathing due to an overdose of drugs like heroin or other prescription pain pills.
The drug is composed to even benefit the individuals who have mixed opioid with alcohol or other illicit drugs. “…Therefore, increasing the availability and targeted distribution of naloxone is a critical component of our efforts to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and, when combined with the availability of effective treatment, to ending the opioid epidemic,” reads the advisory.
Opioid overdose claimed 42,249 lives in 2016, almost double of 21,089 deaths recorded in 2010. The sharp increase in the deaths due to opioid overdose can be attributed to the rapid proliferation of highly potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Additionally, the fact that more individuals are receiving higher doses of prescription opioids for long-term management of chronic pain has also turned into a significant contributing factor to the rise in deaths due to opioid overdose.
Seeking treatment for opioid addiction
Even though Narcan is an effective antidote to opioid overdose, it cannot help in recovering from the opioid addiction. It can only revive a suffering person from slipping to death due to overdose by enabling him/her to continue breathing normally, thereby giving time to get proper medical attention. Opioid addiction is a serious medical condition that needs proper drug abuse recovery programs to attain complete recovery.
Often, the underlying opioid addiction surfaces when an individual experiences opioid withdrawal symptoms. Amidst, it is important to get in touch with a trusted drug abuse rehabilitation center and seek immediate drug abuse help. Successful recovery from opioid addiction can be achieved with the help of medication and therapies under the supervision of a specialized practitioner.
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