According to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, 56 percent of Americans say that they have been personally touched by the opioid abuse epidemic.Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, November 2015. http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-november-2015/ With so many affected by the devastation that opioid misuse and abuse can cause, it’s important to understand the available tools that can help in the event of an overdose. One of the safest and most effective ways for medical professionals and concerned family and friends to prevent death from opioid abuse is to have a supply of the opioid-overdose reversal drug naloxone readily available.
But as naloxone becomes more readily available, some myths have grown around its procurement and use. Here are some of the most common, along with the facts.
Myth: The availability of naloxone encourages drug use.
Fact: Reversing an opioid overdose using naloxone gives a patient a second chance at life. Following a successful overdose reversal, a patient can access additional treatment options that he or she may not have considered previously.
Myth: Naloxone is another drug that can be abused.
Fact: Naloxone is safe and effective, and has no potential for abuse. In addition, naloxone cannot be taken before drug use to avoid an overdose.
Myth: Naloxone is difficult to get.
Fact: Thanks to changes in the law in many states, under a collaborative practice agreement between CVS Pharmacists and a local physician, CVS locations in 43 states can dispense the medication to patients without the need for a separate visit to a prescriber.
Myth: Naloxone is a self-administered treatment.
Fact: During a drug overdose, an opioid user will not have the ability to administer naloxone for themselves. Fortunately, it is very easy for a friend or family member to administer the drug, either intra-nasally, by auto-injector (similar to an epinephrine auto-injector), or intra-muscular injection. In fact, it takes just a few minutes of training from a doctor or pharmacist to learn the steps.
For more information about our efforts in the fight against opioid abuse, visit our Prescription Drug Abuse information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.
This article was originally published on August 31, 2017, and was updated to reflect current data on September 21, 2017.