We live in the midst of an opioid epidemic, which continues to wreak havoc on the country with hundreds of people in the United States dying of overdoses every day. This increase has caused a record number of opioid-related overdose deaths. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose in 2016, the most lethal year yet of the drug overdose epidemic.

As we search for a solution to the opiate crisis, a life-saving medication can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose. The drug is naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, temporarily blocks opiate receptors and is used to prevent death caused by overdose. Katharine Q. Seelye wrote about naloxone and the heroin epidemic for the New York Times in 2016 and said, “Most users loathe naloxone’s effects. By blocking opiate receptors, it plunges them into withdrawal and makes them “dope sick,” craving more heroin or pills.

The medication is very effective in one dose but may require repeated doses, depending on the opioid used. Oxycontin is a slow-release opioid so a person who overdoses on that particular drug would need small doses. Narcan should be given in small doses to a person who overdoses on heroin. When a full dose is given, the person may go into withdrawals immediately causing them to search for more heroin when they leave.

While Narcan is saving lives, critics say it is enabling an addiction. It can produce a false sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that extends the cycle of addiction. The medication can give a false sense of protection from the effects of opioid abuse.

Opioid addiction can cause seizures, heart attack, and permanent brain damage. When a
person overdoses on opioids, his or her breathing slows down, the heart can stop beating, and oxygen does not reach the brain. If the brain does not receive oxygen for more than four minutes, the person will have irreversible brain damage.

Many people do not know they are about to overdose. Narcan saves lives and is a temporary solution, but it gives people a chance to get treatment and turn their lives around.

If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, get help now. Nexus Recovery Services specializes in addiction treatment and encompasses holistic therapy for the mind, body, and soul with a focus on staying active and connected to nature. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life of sobriety. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Call us to get started: 310-881-9151

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