Naloxone, or as most of us know it, Narcan is the life-saving antidote to heroin or other opiates which is used to reverse an overdose. It has been used worldwide in this way for years and is responsible for saving countless precious lives.
Naloxone is a drug that has no abuse potential, in other words you’re not going to get off on it! In fact the ONLY thing that it is good for is reversing an opioid overdose. It’s relatively cheap and very easy to administer via IM injection, usually into a thigh or shoulder.
Unfortunately, here in Australia, Naloxone is only available on prescription from a doctor. Imagine if at the end of our overdose peer education workshops we were able to supply everyone with a Naloxone kit? So, if someone dropped you would have the knowledge to recognise the seriousness of the situation and you would also have the means, i.e. Naloxone to revive them.
Doesn’t that make sense?
Of course it will always be important to call 000 but that panic stricken time spent waiting for the ambulance to arrive would be so much less stressful if you could administer Naloxone yourself and reverse the life threatening effects.
DID YOU KNOW?
Here in Australia, and Victoria in particular, we are way behind the eight ball.
In a number of different countries around the world, naloxone distribution programs have trained drug users and their families and friends to identify the signs of overdose, to administer naloxone, and ultimately, to save lives. These efforts have reversed thousands of overdoses, and show that drug users and their communities can take positive steps to protect their own health.
At first, the idea of handing out naloxone to lay-people – whether drug users or their families and friends – was controversial. But it’s a simple fact that it’s usually another drug user who is around when someone overdoses so it makes sense to skill them up in how to respond. It will result in less people dying
It’s long overdue, but Naloxone programs, although small, are starting in some parts of Australia, e.g. in NSW, ACT, SA and WA.
Sadly, for opiate users in Victoria, there is no sign of movement from our health department – apart from their in principle support for community-based Naloxone distribution – and it’s hard to figure out why.
If you are keen to know more about Naloxone programs in other parts of the world, check out http://naloxoneinfo.org/
Thanks to Stonetree Harm Reduction for the images.