Can Anyone Learn How To Administer Naloxone?
How does one administer Naloxone? It seems difficult. Like an incredible amount of responsibility. It can be. Nevertheless, learning how to administer Naloxone might not be as hard as we think. Furthermore, knowing how to dispense Naloxone just might save someone’s life.
What if you could save someone from a heroin overdose? Would that be worth the responsibility of administering Naloxone? Heroin overdose statistics indicate that we need more people trained with Naloxone.
In this blog, Recovery By The Sea considers the following:
- Explaining and defining Naloxone
- Identifying reasons why we need Naloxone
- Opioids and opioid use disorder
- Long-term treatment options for opioid use disorder
- Administering Naloxone
Explaining And Defining Naloxone
Opioids occur naturally in the brain. They relieve and suppress pain. One who consumes opioids amplifies these effects in the brain. Naloxone interrupts this process. It forms a barrier in the brain. This barrier blocks the opioids from making contact with the opioid receptors.
Interfering with this process helps offset the symptoms of opioid overdose. Overdoses can prove fatal. Therefore, learning how to use Naloxone might save someone’s life. Each year, many people die from opioid overdoses. The world needs people willing to learn to use Naloxone.
Identifying Reasons Why We Need Naloxone
Just under 47,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2017. According to a July article from The Washington Post, about 70,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2020. Statistics like these should grip us. We ought to balk when we read things like these.
Opioids slow down important processes in the brain and the body. Important processes like thinking, breathing, and heart rate. Consequently, opioid overdoses can leave people in comatose states. They do not breathe and their heartbeats become irregular. Left in this condition for too long, death can result. Naloxone can help prevent overdose deaths.
Opioids And Opioid Use Disorder
We’ve mentioned opioids frequently. But what exactly are opioids? Opioids influence the brain in the production of certain neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitter opioids effect the most is dopamine. Dopamine helps drive us toward things that we want. It motivates us.
Also, dopamine rewards us with good feelings whenever we get something that we desire. Opioids cause dopamine to linger in the brain for longer than normal periods of time. Hence the euphoric feeling that people report when taking opioids.
Opioids v. Opiates
Often, you might see the words “opioids” and “opiates” used as synonyms. While related, they do not mean exactly the same thing. Opiates occur in nature. They are byproducts of the opium poppy Papever somniferum. But opioids refers to both natural opioids (opiates) and synthetic opioids. Therefore, it encompasses a broader spectrum.
Examples Of Opioids
When people hurt, they crave an end to it. We don’t like pain. We want it to end as soon as possible. Therefore, we can easily understand the attraction to opioids. They provide a quick, easy response to pain. And when used correctly, they can indeed do that. But when abused, opioids can have disastrous results.
Examples of opioids include:
As mentioned above, some opioids occur in nature. For example, morphine is a natural opioid. For years, doctors have used morphine during and after surgeries. Therein lies the double-edged reality of opioids. They work – and they work well. Perhaps they work a little too well.
Opioid Use Disorder
The more often a person abuses opioids, the more likely they risk developing opioid use disorder. Someone suffering from opioid use disorder has become dependent on opioids. If they quit, then they will incur withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Irritability or anger
- Pain and aches in the muscles
- Abdominal cramps
- Elevated blood pressure
Long-Term Treatment Options For Opioid Use Disorder
One need not live one’s life in subservience to opioid use disorder. Thankfully, treatment options do exist for opioid use disorder. One of the most prominent treatment options is medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). You may also see this referred to as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MOUD/MAT involves helping control opioid cravings with medication.
Other treatments might include partial hospitalization programs (PHP). Intensive outpatient programs represent a step down in intensity from PHP. Further down the treatment ladder are outpatient programs. Less restrictive than those are outpatient and aftercare programs.
One administers Naloxone via the nose. Before administering, check for a pulse. Also, verify whether or not the person is breathing. Look for dilation (or lack thereof) in the pupils. If possible, tilt the head backward. Close one nostril. Insert the Narcan sprayer into the other nostril and depress the sprayer. Monitor the person’s breath and pulse. Repeat as needed. If you have the qualifications, begin CPR.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and get proper training before attempting to use Naloxone.