Is There an End in Sight For the Opioid Overdose Epidemic?

Is There an End in Sight For the Opioid Overdose Epidemic?


A New Solution to Opioid Overdoses

Last week, amidst a waning Ebola panic, the World Health Organization announced some much needed good news. They published a study titled, “Community Management of Opioid Overdose,” in which they recommend broader access to the drug Naloxone.

opioid overdose symptoms

The overview of the W.H.O. study reads, “Opioid overdose is easily reversed with the opioid antidote naloxone and with basic life support.”

That is good news! We live in a country were upwards of 60,000 people are killed each year from overdoses. Something needs to be done and quick.

The World Health Organization isn’t alone in thinking Naloxone could be the “cure” for this overdose epidemic. The Center for Disease Control published a paper in 2012 calling for wider availability of the drug.

So, just what is Naloxone and how is it able to offer hope to those in active addiction? Let’s find out.

Before we go any further, we first need to address what opioid overdose symptoms look like. After all, opioid overdose treatment isn’t any good if you don’t know someone’s overdosing in the first place.

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Opioid Overdose Symptoms

Find common opioid overdose symptoms below:

  • Vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Extended periods of unconsciousness (nodding out)
  • Unable to be woken up
  • If awake – unable to talk and unresponsive to stimulus
  • Shallow/erratic breathing
  • Erratic pulse
  • Body goes limp
  • Skin tone turns blue or gray

Opioid Overdose Treatment

Now that we know some basic opioid overdose symptoms, let’s turn our attention to treatment.

Besides Naloxone, what is opioid overdose treatment? Well, it’s any measure taken to reverse an overdose. This can be as simple as attempting to wake someone who’s nodding off. It can be as intricate as emergency room treatment.

Speaking as someone who’s received all forms of opioid overdose treatment, I much prefer the medical ones. It’s a fact of life that active opioid addicts overdose. However, things like throwing ice water on someone, slapping their face, or letting them “sleep it off” aren’t very helpful. In fact, they can actually do more harm than good.

So, what is medical overdose treatment? More to the point, what is Naloxone overdose treatment?

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Naloxone Overdose Treatment

Naloxone is a popular anti-overdose drug. In simple terms, it clears the brain of opioid molecules. This almost immediately “reverses” an overdose.

opioid overdose treatment

It’s clear that Naloxone overdose treatment is a valuable resource in the fight against overdose deaths. Like the World Health Organization says, the combination of basic life support (i.e. CPR) and Naloxone can almost eradicate these deaths all together.

So why isn’t Naloxone easier to obtain? The answer lies somewhere in the stigma of addiction. For decades, addictions of all kinds, and especially opioid addiction, have been treated as moral issues. Opioid addicts are “weak-willed” or “failures.” They’re treated as criminals rather than sick individuals.

As the attitude surrounding addiction shifts from criminal to medical, so do the treatment options. In fact, Time reported that between 1996 and 2010, over 10,000 overdose deaths were prevented due to Naloxone overdose treatment.

As Naloxone is made available to more and more people, this number will do nothing but grow.

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