The governments at both federal and state levels in the United States are making efforts and devising various measures to combat the opioid epidemic. One such step is use of overdose-reversing drug naloxone. To encourage the use of naloxone, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory in April 2018 for pharmacists, prescribers and other experts.
Various studies are also being conducted to understand the benefits of using naloxone. A report presented at the recent annual meeting of American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) highlighted that 12.7 percent patients undergoing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder went on to use the take-home naloxone kits on friends and others in just a span of three months.
In the same meeting, another study conducted by Mikiko Takeda, PharmD, of the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy in Albuquerque, and colleagues, revealed that among the group of 244 high-risk patients who were from the New Mexico Addiction and Substance Abuse Program, 31 reported using the naloxone kits to successfully reverse 38 overdoses in their community. The outcomes of the study revealed that only 15 (6.2 percent) had ever received a naloxone kit prescription prior to enrollment among the patients who had previously overdosed (44.3 percent), or been witness to someone else overdosing.
Naloxone sold under various brand names, most popularly as Narcan, is a medication designed to reverse the effects of opioids, especially in cases of overdose. In an effort to prevent opioid overdose mortality among Veterans, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities started executing opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND) in 2013 and a national program began in 2014 with an objective to examine the perceptions of the patients regarding OEND training and naloxone kits.
Financial constraints need to be solved for easy access to naloxone
Another study presented at the ASAM drove attention to the hindrances that could be preventing emergency department (ED) staff from handing out take-home naloxone kits to those at risk of opioid-related overdose or death.
Furthermore, an issue at the very heart of limited access to take-home kits has been government funding. Recent reports have emphasized on the cases where upholding naloxone supplies has proved to be a daunting affair, with some cities having to ration its use due to financial constraints.
Other possible barriers underlying limited access to naloxone kits
Carrie Vargo, M.D., Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and colleagues who examined the electronic health record data found that a total of 5,472 patients who had a stint at the ED in the previous year were likely candidates for take-home naloxone.
Even among the 434 patients who were at the highest risk, take-home kits were given to only 80 of those who came in for opioid poisoning or opioid-related adverse events. Furthermore, most of the respondents stated that they had never provided a take-home kit to someone who had overdosed or was a high-risk patient.
Treatment for opioid abuse
While, there are discussions on how to make naloxone easily accessible, one thing is for sure that easy access to any opioid blocker is not a guaranteed cure nor an effective remedy to reverse the opioid crisis. Though it saves life in case of an overdose emergency, seeking further medical help is extremely important as the effects of naloxone tend to wear off after 30 minutes. The idea behind the study was not to discourage the use of naloxone but to help people understand the need for long-term treatment.
The path to recovery begins with a person undergoing a detox program that helps in cleansing the body of the unwanted substances. This is followed by a complete recovery plan that includes a mix of treatment options like medications and therapies. If you know someone addicted to any form of substance, the Florida Detox Helpline can assist him/her in connecting with the best detox center in Florida. Call our 24/7 Florida detox helpline (855) 920-9869 or chat online with an expert to know about one of the best Florida detox centers.