Is There A New Heroin Overdose Antidote

overdoseHeroin overdoses reach new highs every year. This year especially, with such things as fentanyl-infused heroin, the numbers are already set to break last year’s. Of course, choosing to take heroin is still a personal choice; however, there is always a reason why people turn to the drug. Addictions to prescription pills have increased the numbers of heroin alone. As prescription pills are opiates, the similar compounds in heroin make it an adequate substitute. And with the government cracking down on prescriptions, heroin was a cheap alternative. There seemed to be no answer to the heroin overdose problem, until now.

In prior years only rehab programs had the materials necessary for addicts to overcome their addiction problems, including the necessary substances in case of relapse and overdose. That has all changed now. An antidote, to be administered in the earliest stages of heroin overdose, is now available to immediate relative of drug addicts. The antidote is called Narcan, also known as naloxone hydrochloride. Now it is available in kits that can be carried by those close to heroin addicts. The Food and Drug Administration approved the availability of Narcan in a handheld device that can get the antidote into someone who has overdosed.

For or Against Narcan

The movement to get antidotes into the hands of families did hit its own resistance, however. The Governor of Maine spoke about Narcan in an interview with NBC News. “It’s an escape,” he said. Fearing that the antidote would only help heroin addicts in their habit, the governor was at first strictly against making Narcan available. However, he switched his viewpoint shortly after and the antidote was soon in the hands of families all over the state. One mother was eternally grateful as her son almost died due to heroin overdose.

She thought that heroin addiction happened in other families; that her son was too smart. But shortly after he admitted that he was addicted to prescription pills, she went and got the medication. Good thing, too; she would have to use it sooner than she thought. One day, they found him in his room unresponsive. She put the medication in him and they gave him chest compressions until the EMTs arrived. Later, doctors informed her that she had saved him from permanent brain damage. Narcan works by attaching to the receptors that are responsible for triggering feelings of euphoria caused by drugs like heroin and alcohol. Without these receptors reacting to the drugs, there is no high. Professor Charles P. O’Brien, a professor of psychiatry and a founder of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania spoke positively about the medicine, stating it has saved lives all over the world. He has personally been using it since 1973.

Deemed Safe But Treatment is Best Solution

Narcan has been deemed safe enough for families to have. Some states have adopted a “naloxone access” in their laws, making family access much easier. Other states have made it available to all hospital and first responders, making delivering the medicine on scene a quicker option than waiting until the patient arrives at a hospital.

While the new medicine has saved lives, it does make the threat of heroin overdose less lethal, and possibly allowing some to continue to use. In others, it might be the wakeup call they need to get into rehab. This breakthrough in the drug war has given heroin addicts another chance at changing their ways. In the case of the parent above, it kept her son alive, got him into rehab, and he now has a good job and is drug-free. Parents all over the country are thankful for the new medicine.

References:

http://www.today.com/health/life-saving-heroin-antidote-makes-its-way-more-families-2D79488146

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