Naloxone is a generic pharmaceutical that's often called the "heroin antidote". It blocks or reverses the effects of heroin and other opioids, such as morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, and it's intended for emergencies in which these central nervous system side effects could be fatal. As overdoses continue to kill thousands each year, more and more people are learning how to administer this life-saving drug. However, if you use opioids and you're interested in changing your habits to improve your life, there are a few things you should know about this drug.
You won't be able to work toward sobriety at a naloxone treatment center because, unlike drugs that aid withdrawal or prevent misuse, it's reserved for emergencies and short term support of overdose reversal.
Naloxone works to prevent fatal overdoses quickly and effectively and its effects can last 30-90 minutes. If it wears off before the opioids' effect does, a readministration of Naloxone may be needed to stop the overdose from starting again. This is why once Naloxone is administered to someone overdosing, they need to be monitored by medical personnel in case the drug needs to be used again. While Naloxone does counteract the effects of opioids, it isn't prescribed for long-term applications because of its very short term effects.
Opioids depress the functions of a user's lungs and heart, causing their breathing and pulse to get weaker and weaker as they use more. Eventually, in high enough doses, this can actually stop your heart and your breathing. Naloxone works by "waking up" the user and speeding their heart and respirations up, restoring oxygen to their blood, and saving their life. Essentially, the drug abruptly negates the presence of large amounts of opioids. Naloxone does trigger withdrawal symptoms as a result. If you receive a dose of naloxone after long periods of heroin use, you may need medical assistance to detox your body safely and comfortably.
Naloxone is available in two forms: intravenous fluids and nasal sprays (Narcan). Emergency personnel and well-trained citizens may inject naloxone into a muscle, either directly or through an existing IV. They can also spray it directly into a user's nose, allowing their nasal tissue to absorb it into the bloodstream quickly. Because the nasal spray is less invasive and requires less medical knowledge, it's becoming more popular among people who want to keep a naloxone supply on them in case they encounter an overdose. In Ohio alone, the nasal spray was used 74,000 times between 2003 and 2012.
Naloxone is only manufactured by a few pharmaceutical companies, and, as demand for the nasal spray version continues to increase throughout the United States, these manufacturers are capitalizing on its popularity by increasing its wholesale price. For example, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals charged $12.78 per vial in 2013, but by the end of 2014, their price more than doubled to $28.50. In early 2015, Amphastar did agree to provide rebates to off-set this increase. However, they only apply in New York, and only result in a savings of $6 each.
If you know someone who uses opioids regularly, consider contacting your physician or pharmacist for more information about obtaining and training to use naloxone in case of emergencies. If you're an opioid user, you may want to inform your loved ones about this drug. However, the best way to avoid overdoses is to limit or stop your use completely.
If you'd like to learn more about ending opioid or other substance use habits without fear of relapse or deprivation, call Saint Jude Retreats today. One of our Family Consultants can provide information on our transformational non-12 Step approach and help you decide if our program is a good fit for you or a loved one.