As deaths related to opioid abuse and overdoses reach record highs in our country, we are in a constant and desperate need of immediate interventions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that about 2.5 million people are abusing opiates in the United States, and about 80 percent of addicts use opiates. The clear safety and efficacy of Narcan (Naloxone) make its widespread use and availability refreshing and uncontroversial. Naloxone is impossible to abuse, as its only activity in the brain corresponds to blocking opioid receptors. What it can and has been doing however is saving thousands of lives. Approximately 44,000 people who die in this country per year due to accidental overdoses, but we are hoping to see this number go down as more states jump on board with this easier availability of Narcan.
In Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and now Texas this opiate overdose reversal drug is now available over the counter. Public health officials in these states hope to see a significant decrease in the number of unintentional opiate overdoses as a result of making this an OTC drug. CVS and Walgreens have jumped on board to offer this life-saving drug over the counter in their pharmacies across these states. We hope to see this trend spread even further across the United States over the next couple years.
The medical community will be closely monitoring the effects of this change in the states that already implemented it; gauging the benefits this action will have on our country’s opiate addiction epidemic. If Narcan is not available where you live, contact your local legislator to find out what your state government is doing to help save lives in the part of the country you reside. If you or someone you love is an opiate addict it is never a bad idea to have Narcan at the house incase of an unpredicted overdose, it can mean the difference between life and death. Speak to your health care provider to address further and more in depth questions and concerns.