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Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.

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08-04 Importance of spreading education on opioid overdoses and naloxone use

Posted in Drug abuse, Drug addiction, Opioid addiction, Opioids, Prescription drug abuse by Rachael - 0 Comments
Importance of spreading education on opioid overdoses and naloxone use

Drug overdose deaths are one of the leading causes of death in the United States with millions of people battling with a drug addiction every year. However, this epidemic has nearly tripled during 1999 to 2014, thereby representing a significantly growing problem in the U.S. The main reason for the rapid climb in numbers is the alarming rise and availability of prescription opioids, as well as the increased rate of abuse and misuse of these medications for recreational and self-medication purposes.

The fatalities caused by drug abuse has surpassed the number of causalities caused by motor vehicle crashes. It was found that opioid poisonings were responsible for over 16,000 deaths in 2010. The misuse and abuse of controlled substances like opioids, especially by the common masses and those afflicted with chronic pain, has led to a nationwide issue. In fact, the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) highlighted that in 2015, an estimated 6.4 million Americans aged 12 or older were current misusers of prescription drugs, which include pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.

The fact that further aggravates the problems of opioid users is the high risk of a relapse and overdose during the treatment. Despite enunciating innumerable strategies to control the spike in the opioid overdose deaths, such as spreading awareness among medical practitioners and patients, prescription drug take back programs, etc., there seems no end to the menace. Some of the gaps pertaining to the knowledge of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that has the potential to reverse opioid overdoses, has also been responsible for increasing the burden.

Importance of naloxone

Naloxone helps in combating the effects of opioids by extracting the opioid agonists from opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). Administered in intranasally (IN), intramuscularly (IM), intravenously (IV) or subcutaneously, naloxone is a short-acting opioid antagonist that has been used by medical practitioners since ages due to its well-established safety and efficacy in reversing opioid overdose cases. It has been found effective against several other opioid agonists, such as morphine, heroin, oxycodone and methadone.

Often considered as a safe medication to treat an opioid overdose, there has been rapid expansion in the training and distribution of naloxone by including emergency medical technicians, police officers, firefighters, etc.

In fact, this mu-opioid antagonist is a remarkably effective and inexpensive medication that causes mild side effects when used as directed by a medical professional. Looking at its key role in reversing an opioid overdose, almost every American state have unanimously provided legislative authority to administer naloxone in such cases.

Acquaint friends, family and others about naloxone use

Since family members are often a part of the greater section that usually administers naloxone during an opioid overdose, it becomes essential to educate friends, family members and other bystanders about opioid overdose and naloxone use. Besides providing knowledge about an opioid overdose, this also acts as an effective way of managing opioid overdoses and deaths.

Additionally, there are several challenges in terms of cost, legal and regulatory issues associated with prescription and distribution of drugs, etc. Due to the poor access to naloxone and other legal barriers standing in the way of medical practitioners, people will fail to leverage any benefit only from education on opioid overdose and naloxone.

In recent times, there has been increased interest to expand access to naloxone. Fortunately, many states have extended legal immunity to medical professionals with regard to prescription and dispensation of naloxone. Somewhere around 14 American states took a progressive measure that allowed the availability of naloxone over the counter (OTC) at pharmacies. Naloxone kits have been distributed to emergency responders and the family members of drug users. Efforts have also been made to distribute naloxone kits in pharmacies and emergency departments.

Recovery road map

The proper knowledge of opioid overdose and naloxone, along with easy access to naloxone kits for free or low cost, can help in addressing the issue. Despite being preventable in nature, opioid overdose has been a major contributor to deaths. Therefore, one should widen his or her knowledge to avoid life-threatening repercussions due to opioid abuse.

If you or someone you know is abusing prescription drugs like opioids, contact the Colorado Prescription Abuse Helpline. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-922-5915 or chat online to connect with the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in Colorado.