The Catch 22 Of Narcan
With the opioid epidemic surging, and overdose deaths continuing to climb every year, we are at a point where we need to act fast to save lives. I have overdosed on opioids on a couple of occasions, and I wouldn’t be here now to counsel people on the dangers of addiction if it weren’t for Narcan saving my life.
So what is Narcan? Narcan is a brand name for a medicine called Naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
Narcan is commonly distributed as a nasal spray that can be injected in the nose of someone suffering from an overdose. It can also be administered in liquid form intravenously.
It is rapidly becoming the number one medication used by emergency personnel when responding to an opioid overdose. With the availability of Narcan becoming more widespread, it has been used more and more often to save lives.
What exactly does Narcan do? Narcan is an opioid receptor antagonist. Once administered, it reverses and/or blocks the effects that opioids have on the body.
It is vital to restoring respiration and other bodily functions that are decreased or stopped after opioid use. Narcan is generally safe to administer, as there are no significant adverse reactions.
The risk of having a bad reaction to Narcan after an overdose is far less than the effects of the overdose itself.
Despite the widespread use of Narcan and the increase in survival rates associated with it, there is still a fair amount of opposition to it. There are still several states that outlaw the use of Narcan by those who do not have a prescription.
It is becoming a more acceptable form of overdose treatment, however there are still a large number of legal barriers that inhibit its accessibility.
Break The Stigma
Unfortunately, the stigma that surrounds drug abuse and addiction is still common in today’s society. Because of this, there are a lot of people who believe that allowing widespread access to Narcan gives people more of an excuse to engage in illicit drug use.
Some would argue that drug users are more likely to continue using if they have Narcan handy in the event of an overdose. This is a very tricky and delicate conversation to delve into.
I can personally say that I would rather have more people survive an opioid overdose than not. It’s pretty simple. Narcan saves lives, and if it were more widely available the number of drug overdose deaths would decrease.
There is also something to be said for the effect a drug overdose can have on certain people. An overdose can be a wakeup call for a lot of individuals. It can be the rock bottom that they need to hit in order to start changing their ways.
I truly believe that if more people had the ability to survive their overdose, they would at the very least consider getting help.
The advent of good Samaritan laws is something that has definitely helped the survival rate. People who overdose often do not get the immediate medical attention that they need because fellow users are afraid to call 911 and get in trouble.
I’ve heard this story time and time again. There are many people who could be saved but because of our drug laws, they succumb to their overdose without getting help.
This is a gigantic problem and fortunately, good Samaritan laws exist in many states that prevent those who call for help from getting in trouble themselves.
If we want more people to live, it’s very important that we break the stigma not only surrounding addiction but surrounding lifesaving drugs such as Narcan.
A lot of people will compare this issue to the idea of legalizing drugs altogether. If we legalize drugs, more people will do them. So by that logic, if Narcan is more readily available and its use encouraged, that will encourage more people to use opioids without fear of succumbing to an overdose.
What it all comes down to is education. We already have the opioid epidemic in place. We already have millions of people addicted. Right now, a drug like Narcan is the best thing that we have so that more people can live.
If we want to lessen the amount of overdose deaths, our best option is to become more educated on this issue. It’s quite simple. More Narcan means less death. Any former addict will tell you that seeing the opposition and legal barrier around Narcan is extremely discouraging to our progress.
We all need a little better understanding of how a drug addict’s mind works. I’ve known hundreds of addicts. Not one of them has ever led me to believe they kept using opioids because they could get their hands on Narcan.
There may be a small element of this that exists, but it is not the majority. As I mentioned before, people who suffer an opioid overdose may be more likely to seek help. Overdosing is terrifying and it can really put you in your place and make you realize you are not invincible.
It is vital that we educate the public on harm reduction. We all know that despite the amount of support and drug treatment options people have, the pull of addiction is still incredibly overpowering.
It all comes down to accepting the reality surrounding drug abuse. It is very common in our society, and it is becoming more widespread by the day. If there is anything that can be done to prevent more people from dying, we need to take advantage of whatever it is.
A lot of the people who could be saved from an overdose are the same people who could later become educators once they face their addiction.
We need as many former addicts as we can possibly get to speak out about the dangers of drugs, particularly opioids. I often think of all the great people I’ve known who are no longer here to do. Narcan gives us the ability to save more people, who may go on to save others themselves.
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