I am writing this article about a topic no parent wants to even think about: opioid overdose. However, 300 families a day are having to face the ultimate loss because of the overdose epidemic.
Accidental overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans 18 to 45 (per Families Against Fentanyl). Per the CDC, over 80% of overdose deaths are attributed to illicit fentanyl (and similar synthetic opioids like protonitazene and isotononitazine). The entire illicit drug supply is contaminated with potent and deadly opioids.
I think that these facts have been way under-reported and I am still disappointed by how many people I meet are not aware of the gravity of the opioid epidemic.
Enter Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses overdose
Narcan is a nasal spray that can quickly reverse an overdose and is credited for saving tens of thousands of lives. It is as simple as spraying Afrin into someone nose when they exhibit the signs of an overdose (being non-responsive, slowed or stop breathing, discolored lips or fingernails).
Narcan is the most common brand name for the drug known as naloxone. Most people refer to any brand of naloxone as Narcan, similar to how people refer to any tissue as Kleenex (a brand name). There are newer formulations of Narcan with brand names Kloxxado, Zimhi, and BRIXADI that may even be more effective due to higher doses of naloxone.
Who should carry Narcan?
We are asking everyone to carry Narcan and keep it in places like their car and purse.
However, the demographic we think who can make the biggest difference with this antidote are teens and 20 somethings, especially those who might encounter others who have been taking drugs (think dorms, concerts, parties).
Don’t want to talk to your teen about opioid overdose? There are 300 families each day who will never get a chance to do so. Narcan can be a way for both you and your teen to spread awareness and make a difference.
Where can I get Narcan? How much will it cost?
Narcan is frequently made available for little or no cost. Visit Narcan-Finder.com for low-cost and no-cost naloxone resources. Call or visit your pharmacy and/or your insurance provider for more information. Narcan has been cleared by the FDA for over-the-counter sale, and the projection is that it will be widely available without a prescription by Summer 2023. In the meantime, it may require a prescription, depending on your location. Your doctor and insurance provider should be of assistance.
If you need help for a substance use disorder
If you or someone you know needs help with a substance use disorder (SUD), it’s always helpful to talk with a behavioural health professional about your specific situation. A counsellor will likely have insight and tools to help you learn about pursuing recovery, or helping your loved one address their drug use.
You can start by visiting The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) Treatment Locator, which is a directory that has a helpline that is staffed 24/7. That line can be reached by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
If you’re in North Carolina, you can contact Solas Health at (910) 295-7246, or by visiting https://solas.health/