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What is Naloxone: An Elixir of Life for Opioid Overdoses

Woman sitting with her loved one who is being treated with naloxone for a drug overdose.
Naloxone was administered 5,000 in Colorado in 2018 to prevent fatal opioid overdoses.

From tales of the gods of Ancient Greece to fictional stories like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, humanity has always chased this idea of an “elixir of life”. As a species, we’re fascinated with the thought of there being a recipe for immortality.

Logically, we know such a thing doesn’t exist. But science has actually brought us closer (in a way) with Naloxone, an opioid antagonist drug that could be seen as an “elixir of life” for those struggling with opioid addiction.

What is Naloxone?

Picture coming home and seeing your loved one practically lifeless on the floor. Their skin has turned a bluish, gray color and they’re barely breathing. Fear and panic immediately take hold and the first thing you do is call 911.

But what if help arrives too late? Or what if the first responders make it to your home in time but aren’t able to help? Luckily, these questions no longer have to be answered with, “there’s nothing you can do.”

Naloxone, or known by its brand name Narcan, is a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses to save lives. It does this by binding to receptors in your brain that would have originally been occupied by opioids.

If you or the first responders have Naloxone on hand, the drug can be immediately injected into your loved one or used as a nasal spray. As Naloxone takes effect, it stops your loved one’s brain from being flooded with dopamine and it prevents the opioids from depressing the central nervous system and respiratory system, helping your loved one breath normally.

If administered in time, Naloxone can help save your loved one from a fatal overdose.

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Naloxone Use in Colorado

While such a drug may sound too good to be true, Colorado has been an excellent use case for how Naloxone is already saving lives. In 2018, the drug was administered 5,000 times to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. While 349 people still passed away from opioid overdoses in Colorado during that year, experts claim significantly more lives would have been lost without Naloxone.

These hopeful results are largely due to how accessible Naloxone has become to first responders, law enforcement and even citizens throughout the state. Police departments, government officials, state organizations and initiatives like Naloxone for Life have helped distribute Naloxone kits throughout Colorado and make it more easily available in pharmacies for people to have on hand in case of an overdose.

While it can’t be considered the only reason, Naloxone is thought to be a contributing factor to the 6.4 percent decrease in opioid overdose deaths recorded in Colorado between 2017 and 2018.

What Can I Do to Help Prevent My Loved One From a Fatal Opioid Overdose?

If you know your loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, it’s important to ask for Naloxone at your local pharmacy and be on the lookout for signs of overdose.

If your loved one is high, they’ll exhibit smaller pupils, slurred speech and nod out a bit. However, they’ll typically respond to outside stimuli like loud noises or shaking. This type of response doesn’t happen if your loved one is experiencing an overdose.

During an overdose, your loved one’s body will go limp and their skin will look pale, bluish and clammy. They’ll typically be unconscious, but if they maintain consciousness, they’ll be unresponsive and unable to speak.

If your loved one appears to have suffered an overdose, use Naloxone as quickly as possible to help save their life. Even if you’re still not sure if your loved one has overdosed or not, Naloxone is the best opioid and heroin overdose treatment you can immediately provide that will help them if they did, in fact, overdose.

While Naloxone can help, it shouldn’t be seen as a way to help manage your loved one’s opioid addiction. Naloxone isn’t a cure, and your loved one needs actual opioid addiction treatment to help recover and cope with any mental health issues that may have led to their opioid addiction.

Get Your Loved One Effective Opioid Addiction Treatment at The Raleigh House

Naloxone can help you save your loved one’s life, but for how long? Truly recovering from opioid addiction takes more than a temporary “elixir of life” substitute like Naloxone. Instead, it takes an evidence-based addiction treatment approach and a caring, supportive rehab staff to help your loved one get their life back.

That’s what we offer at The Raleigh House in Denver, Colorado. When your loved one comes to our wellness lodge called The Ranch, they’ll be in a safe and comforting place to face their opioid addiction head on and develop ways to overcome it. There’s hope for your loved one to be the healthy and happy person they once were and we’re ready to help them.

Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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