When someone experiences an opioid overdose, the part of their brain that tells their body to breathe stops working, so breathing is either slowed significantly or stops altogether.
Narcan® (Naloxone), part of the standard of care for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs, comes in the form of a nasal spray that temporarily blocks or reverses the effects of opioids almost immediately; usually within about 30 seconds. While the effect is only temporary, administering Narcan® can mean giving someone that has overdosed enough time for emergency medical intervention and a life saved. It is important to note that once administered the patient is still at risk of overdosing. The Narcan® merely buys someone some extra time for an ambulance to arrive that they would not have had without it.
Narcan® is not addictive
Since one cannot experience a “high” from Narcan®, there is no potential for abuse. It cannot affect someone if it is administered to a person mistakenly believed to be experiencing an opioid overdose, nor if self-administered by someone who believes it can provide a euphoric feeling like an opioid or even a child that ingests the medication.
Project HOPE in Alaska offers Narcan® Overdose Response Kits free of charge to individuals and through various organizations throughout the State. SEARHC pharmacies as well as our Front Street Clinic in downtown Juneau receive the kits from Project HOPE and makes them available to anyone requesting one. The requester will not be asked to provide any personal information and does not need to be a SEARHC patient. The only requirement is for the individual receiving the kit to obtain brief training on how to recognize an overdose and how to properly use the kit. The training takes just a couple of minutes.
Traci Gale, SEARHC Director of Pharmacy, says, “The goal is to get as many out into the public as possible and train anyone to use them.”
You never know when you’ll need it
People requesting Narcan® kits may be opioid users that wish to ensure someone they spend much of their time with has doses of Narcan® handy, or non-users concerned about someone close to them or that wish to be prepared should they randomly find themselves in a situation Narcan® could save a life.
Sasha Moore, Clinic Manager at SEARHC’s Front Street Clinic, estimates they distribute 15-20 Narcan® Overdose Response Kits each month and believes its availability is saving lives that would be lost otherwise.
Traci Gale, PharmD reviewed the information presented here.
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