If You Can’t Get Them to Get Addiction Help, Naloxone May Save Their Life During Overdose
When someone overdoses on heroin, it’s not likely that John Travolta’s going to be around to pull his famous Pulp Fiction move – stabbing them in the chest with a needle full of adrenalin. But with record numbers of people switching from OxyContin to heroin, something is definitely needed to help prevent death from overdoses. The ultimate prevention is addiction help, but, in the meantime, make sure they have access to Naloxone, aka Narcan.
Why are people switching from OxyContin to heroin? The majority of prescription drug deaths, which are now higher than deaths from ‘illegal’ drugs, involve OxyContin or a similar prescription painkiller. Seeing how dangerous and addictive OxyContin really is, doctors are reluctant to prescribe it.
But a lot of people who are addicted depend on the doctor for the drug. They can’t buy it on the street – even though there’s plenty of it available illegally – because it’s just too expensive. It might cost $60 – $80 a pill. That’s one dose.
Heroin, on the other hand, costs $5 to $10 per dose.
The problem is that people who are used to taking OxyContin know how much they’re taking (each pill is a certain number of milligrams) and how much they can tolerate. They also know exactly what’s in the pill.
With heroin, you never really know how much you’re taking because the strength could be different from one dose to the next. Also, heroin is often mixed with other drugs or substances like talcum powder or milk sugar in order to make it weaker and to make more money for the dealers.
Mixing it with milk sugar is not particularly dangerous, but sometimes it’s cut with things that are poisonous – like arsenic or strychnine. Strychnine is most commonly used as rat poison, and it’s a very cheap way to make the heroin stretch further.
In walks Naloxone. It’s available in some parts of the U.S. and Canada, as an injectible drug or a nasal spray. Drug addicts can go to a center, get the drug kit, and train on how to use it. It’s also available to people who have a family member (or maybe a friend or partner) who is addicted, and to certain members of the general public.
If someone they are with overdoses, they are given the drug. It starts to work within minutes, knocking the heroin out of the receptors in the brain. But it can wear off after about 45 minutes, so it’s still important to call 911 or get the person to a hospital.
Naloxone works on heroin, Fentanyl, OxyContin and other opiates or opioid drugs.
In the U.S., this drug has been used by emergency services for more than 15 years, more than 50,000 Naloxone drug kits have been distributed to the public, and it’s saved at least 10,000 lives. But, still, not enough people know about it.
Check with your doctor if you need some, or contact your state or province’s equivalent of the Offices of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.
Of course, the real life-saver is getting anyone on these drugs into drug rehab so they can start a new life without drugs. But if that isn’t going to happen today, get Naloxone (Narcan).