Naloxone, or Narcan, is a drug used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, such as heroin or morphine. More specifically specifically the life-threatening depression of the central nervous system, respiratory system, and hypo-tension secondary to opiate overdose. With prescription pills and heroin abuse at all time highs, it’s no surprise that overdoses are also rising. If Naloxone was more readily available, chances are the amount of overdoses would drop. Many different officials and lawmakers and finally starting to understand the importance of this drug. New Jersey is one of the latest states to start to make big changes regarding the availability.
Overdoses and Naloxone
Accidental overdoses related to different types of opiates has been rising for years. About ten years ago is when this problem began, prescription painkillers were more common than Advil in some areas. Many people began abusing them, that number has been on the rise ever since. It is extremely hard to stop using opiates, they are both physically and mentally addictive. As one’s tolerance grows the more pills they begin to take which results in more and more overdose. Heroin is often cheaper than prescription pills which helps explain it’s rise to popularity in the mid 2000’s. Heroin is cheaper and stronger than most prescription pills. It is a heavy hitter in the overdose category. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that overdose deaths have gone up 3x in the United states since 1990!
Naloxone is in the same family as opioids and it is able to reverse the effects that they have on the human body. Naloxone is able to reverse the effects of an overdose by filling in opioid receptor sites in the brain and taking out opioids that are already in said sites. When someone has taken too much of an opiates, by getting a shot or even by inhaling Naloxone it can immediately restore breathing and can even save that person’s life. The only people who can get Naloxone are those who have a prescription for it, so obviously getting access to it has been problematic. Thankfully that is changing. Many ordinary citizens and first responders are now getting access to this life saving drug.
In New Jersey, governor Chris Christie is taking big steps (no pun intended) to making Naloxone more easily obtainable and available. Christie just announced the expansion of a program that will put Naloxone doses into the hands thousands of medical personnel, police officers and other first responders. This all started in Monmouth and Ocean counties in the great state of New Jersey. In those counties this program has already saved lives, including 40 in the last two months. Thankfully it will now be available statewide.
Christie announced was putting in his two cents on the country’s war on drugs while introducing his Naloxone program that he is putting into effect. In 2013 Ocean County saw 112 overdoses, that number doubled from the previous year of 2012. Another announcement Christie made is that his task force on heroin and opiate abuse will be using new measures to help combat heroin and prescription pill use. He plans on changing laws regarding prescription drug monitoring and mandating treatment for first-time offenders and other legislative measures.
We can only hope that what Governor Christie is doing will help lower the amount of deaths seen throughout the state of New Jersey. Hopefully his smart approach on the drug epidemic will reach beyond the borders of NJ and reach other areas of the country that are being so effected by this problem.