The new law allows friends and families of more drug users in the state to be able to reverse the effects of a heroin or opiate overdose at home by injecting the life-saving drug. The bill allows anyone to ask a doctor for a prescription for the drug, which can drastically reduce the number of overdose deaths from opiates.
Naloxone is also known by its brand name Narcan, and it is an opiate agonist which prevents drugs like OxyContin and heroin from binding to the opioid receptors in the brain. By doing so, it can reverse the effects of taking too much of an opiate drug and prevent death from an overdose. Naloxone can be directly injected into the person who is overdosing or it can be delivered via a nasal spray formula.
The drug is non-addictive, non-toxic, cheap and easy to administer through the nose via a spray or in the vein as an injection. The Food and Drug Administration first approved it back in 1971 and it is stocked in countless emergency rooms, post-surgery recovery rooms and in ambulances all across the country. However, it is important to remember, not many opiate users have the luck of making it to the hospital in time to counteract the effects of a drug overdose.
For that reason, in 2008, the state of California implemented a pilot program in seven different counties. The program allowed drug abusers, their family and friends, health care professionals and addiction specialists to administer Naloxone in cases of emergency and all parties are protected against lawsuits, if anything should go wrong.
The bill signed into law by Governor Brown extends the pilot program all across the state of California. Beginning January 1st, 2014, drug users, their friends and family can request a prescription for Narcan from a doctor or a drug treatment program.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence is spreading the word around that a person who knows someone who is abusing opiates should have this medication on hand in case of emergency. It has been used by EMT’s, paramedics and first responders in emergency rooms for many years and research indicated more than 10,000 lives have been saved by the drug.
There are more than 52 programs in at least 17 different states that distribute Naloxone to those at risk of an overdose and to laypeople who might be first responders in emergency overdose instances. The program is expected to train recipients in emergency overdose protocols, recognition and response such as calling 911, rescue breathing and administering Naloxone.
Drug overdoses kill more people each year than car accidents or gunshot wounds. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control reported 38,329 people died from drug overdose and the most common drug which kills is opiates like heroin and OxyContin.
If you are interested in finding out more information about heroin treatment, Naloxone or want to inquire about our services, please contact us at the California Addiction Network, because we are here for you.