The Prevention of Deaths from Drug Overdose

As of July 15, 2014, thirty states and the District of Columbia had enacted legislation to decrease overdose deaths. In 2015, Arkansas joined them in the passage of the Joshua Ashley-Pauley Act . Named after a young man who died of an overdose in 2014, the law protects the person reporting the potential overdose, by providing limited immunity from arrest, charge and prosecution, including those on probation or parole.
Many states are taking an additional step in the prevention of deaths from drug overdose through the expanded authorization of and funding for the use of Naloxone (also known as Narcan®). Naloxone is a medication called an “opioid antagonist” used to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Specifically, Naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract or reverse the life-threatening effects of depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system; the medication has no effect if opioids are absent. Although traditionally administered by emergency response personnel, Naloxone can be administered by minimally trained laypeople, which makes it ideal for treating overdose in people who have been prescribed opioid pain medication and in people who use heroin and other opioids. Naloxone has no potential for abuse. Naloxone may be injected in the muscle, vein or under the skin or sprayed into the nose. It is a temporary drug that wears off in 20-90 minutes. The Naloxone Access Act allows a healthcare professional, acting in good faith, to directly or by standing order prescribe and dispense an opioid antagonist, such as Naloxone, to (1) a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose; (2) a pain management clinic; (3) a harm reduction organization; (4) an emergency medical services technician; (5) a first responder; (6) a law enforcement officer or agency; or (7) a family member or friend of a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose. Many states are providing the funding for this to be routinely carried by law enforcement or other first-responders.

Research studies have investigated this common concern and found that making Naloxone available does NOT encourage people to use opiates more. The goal of distributing Naloxone and educating people about how to prevent, recognize and intervene in overdoses is to prevent deaths. Other goals, such as decreasing drug use, can only be accomplished if the user is alive.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an Opioid addiction, the Oasis Renewal Center may be able to help, please call us at 501.376.2747

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