In 2016, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States, of which more than 42,000 involved opioids. Preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the 2017 figure at a staggering 72,000 lives lost to drug overdose, but what the data does not convey is the human toll of this epidemic: we are losing over 174 lives a day, our children, parents, friends and neighbors.
These tragedies can be prevented. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. It is bystander-administered, and learning how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose is one step we can all take to help save a life.
People who have had a nonfatal overdose are at heightened risk of fatal overdose. With the necessary support, a nonfatal overdose can become an opportunity for intervention, and is a time to provide compassion, tools and resources to our most vulnerable patients and their families.
Overdose Reversal Toolkit
Addiction Policy Forum’s Overdose Reversal Toolkit contains training videos on how to recognize and respond to an overdose, information about how to administer naloxone, harm reduction education, resources and further reading. This toolkit is open source, and we encourage you to share it with your communities and loved ones who could benefit from this information.
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. It comes in three FDA-approved forms: Narcan® nasal spray, Evzio® auto-injector, and injectable naloxone. Naloxone works by binding to the same brain receptors that opioids do and pushing out the opioids that are causing the overdose.
Naloxone only reverses opioid overdoses, but is so safe that even if you’re not sure whether the medical emergency was caused by opioids, some other drug, or another medical condition, administering naloxone will not cause harm. When someone has taken powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl, sometimes multiple doses of naloxone are needed to reverse the overdose.
Many states have a standing order prescription for naloxone, which allows laypeople to obtain naloxone from the pharmacy without having their own prescription for the medication. To find naloxone near you, call the Addiction Resource Center: 1-833-301-HELP (4357)