On Thursday, April 5th, the Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, made a formal announcement that more Americans should carry naloxone, a drug generally used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
This was done via the surgeon general’s advisory, a tool that hasn’t been utilized in over a decade.
To put this in perspective, the last surgeon general’s advisory focused on drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
So, what would make Dr. Adams go to this extent?
Part of it may be about the numbers.
The number of overdose deaths from prescription and illicit opioids doubled in recent years. This went from 21,089 deaths in 2010 to 42,249 in 2016.
Adams attributed this to "the rapid proliferation of illicitly made fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids" and "an increasing number of individuals receiving higher doses of prescription opioids for the long-term management of chronic pain."
However, he also added that "research shows that when naloxone and overdose education are available to community members, overdose deaths decrease in those communities."
What Is Naloxone?
Naloxone may also be known by its brand name Narcan, one of several similar drugs.
Naloxone rapidly reverses the effects of opioids, overdoses included, by serving as an opioid antagonist. This means that it binds to opioid receptors, causing a reversal of effects, like restoring respiration to a person who’s breathing may have slowed post-overdose.
There are three ways to administer naloxone.
The most common option for medical professionals is the injectable version, which requires professional training.
The second option is an auto-injectable device, and the third is a pre-packaged nasal sprays suitable for home use.
Dosage may vary based on the product, so you need to be sure to read what it says before administering it.
What Does This Mean for You?
There’s a bit of controversy going on regarding naloxone and its growing presence.
Some compare this to an order promoting CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver.
This can especially make sense in situations where a medical professional may not be present.
However, some fear that having this option available may actually encourage more people to overdose, knowing that there will be a common means of recovery.
The role of Naloxone in the bigger opioid picture is hard to say at the moment.
However, it may make the difference between survival and death in a situation that, unfortunately, is becoming more and more common as time goes on.
As the standards change, it’s more important that people in the medical profession, whether they are doctors, EMTs, nurses, or other first responders, have the proper knowledge and certifications to make sure they stay current.
When it comes to learning new material, it can be difficult to take and retake tests in person while you navigate your daily duties.
ProMed Certifications is your top source for ACLS, PALS, BLS and CPR, AED, & First Aid certification online. Check us out today and make sure you are ready to use Naloxone and other necessary drugs, should the situation arise.
Subscribe to ProMed Certifications | Medical Training Blog
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox