Naloxone is a drug with two significant uses in fighting opioid addiction and overdose.
First, you may have heard of the brand-name drug, Narcan. Narcan is known as an opioid overdose reversal drug. It is available as an injectable and also as a nasal spray. When a person is overdosing on an opiate or opioid, such as heroin, fentanyl, or oxycodone, if naloxone is given soon enough, the effects of the opioid drug are reversed and the patient wakes up. Instead of dying from their breathing slowing down and stopping, the person starts breathing again and has a chance to live through the overdose. Naloxone is also available as the brand, Evzio, which is a talking auto-injector device. Evzio is an excellent product which comes with the ability to inject up to five times. This is important because naloxone can wear off quickly, making it possible for the person to start overdosing again. To learn more about harm reduction using naloxone, you may be interested in tuning into a good naloxone podcast.
The other use of naloxone: as an abuse deterrent.
Even better than reversing an overdose is preventing it in the first place. Naloxone is also used as an abuse deterrent in various opioid drugs. If a drug abuser attempts to crush an opioid pill that contains naloxone and then snort or inject it, they will feel the full effects of the naloxone blocking the opioid receptors. When this happens, the opioid user becomes very physically sick. They are thrown into opioid withdrawal and they feel significant withdrawal symptoms. While typically not dangerous, these symptoms are quite unpleasant. Knowing that naloxone is present will deter the drug abuser from trying to engage in the dangerous activities of snorting or shooting up the opiate pain pill.
Suboxone also contains naloxone.
The addiction treatment drug Suboxone also has naloxone in it. There are some drug abusers who may try to get high by injecting Suboxone films. If they do, the naloxone will make them sick. As discussed on a recent naloxone podcast, there is still an issue with drug abusers injecting Suboxone because the naloxone is so short-acting. The IV drug abuser knows that the withdrawal symptoms will go away in a short time. The use of monthly injectables, such as Sublocade or Brixadi, is one possible solution to bypass IV Suboxone abuse.
Learn more about the importance of harm reduction.
Harm reduction means preventing harm to an active drug abuser. Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to get a person to stop using drugs until they are truly ready to stop. Until then, it is important that we do whatever we can to keep them alive and safe. An important component of harm reduction is the availability of naloxone for overdose reversal. In one naloxone podcast, it was suggested that naloxone be available in all buildings, just like fire extinguishers. Another podcaster suggested that naloxone should be as common as hand sanitizer. The more available naloxone is in the form of products such as Narcan and Evzio, the more likely it is that it will be there when someone needs it most in order to survive an opioid overdose.