How Naloxone Saves Lives in Opioid Overdose

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November 27, 2023

The opioid crisis has hit America hard. In just one year, 2021, over 106,000 lives were lost to drug overdoses, with a large majority involving opioids like fentanyl. This drug is extra powerful and is often mixed into other drugs, which can catch individuals off guard and lead to accidental overdoses. Carrying Naloxone, a life-saving medication is a critical measure in combating these tragic incidents.

Signs of Opioid Overdose

Opioids are a type of medication that can help with pain, but they can also be dangerous. They work by connecting to certain spots in the brain that make us feel pleasure and also control how we breathe. Taking too many opioids can cause the body to forget to breathe, which is what happens during an overdose. Some signs that someone might be overdosing include: 

Narcan nasal spray, a life-saving Naloxone medication used to combat opioid overdoses.

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is an FDA approved emergency medication that can stop an overdose in its tracks. It works by kicking opioids off the brain’s receptors, helping the person to breathe again. This medicine is like a temporary stop sign that tells the overdose to pause, giving emergency services time to arrive and provide more help. 

You can pick up Naloxone at most pharmacies, and you don’t need a doctor’s note for it. It’s available as a spray for the nose or as an injection. Having Naloxone on hand can be a lifesaver, especially if you or someone close to you uses opioids or other substances that could be laced with something unknown and life-threatening. 

Naloxone nasal spray and naloxone injection side by side, vital medications for reversing opioid overdoses.

How to Use Naloxone 

If you’re faced with an overdose situation, here’s what to do: 

  1. Call 911 immediately. Tell them someone has overdosed. 
  1. If you have the nasal spray, place the tip into one nostril and press the plunger to release the dose. 
  1. If the person doesn’t start breathing after 2-3 minutes, give another dose. 
  1. Keep the person on their side and stay with them until help arrives. 
  1. Follow any instructions the 911 operator gives you. 

Remember, using Naloxone is safe and beneficial in situations if there is a sign of an substance related overdose. Although Naloxone specifically reverses opioid overdoses, the substance causing an overdose may not always be clear.

Building a Support System During Opioid Addiction Recovery 

Recovery from opioid addiction is a journey that you shouldn’t have to walk alone. Building a strong support system is key. This can include: 

  • Family and friends who care about you and want to help. 
  • Professional counselors who understand addiction and substance use and can guide you through recovery. 
  • Support groups where you can meet others with similar experiences who are also working towards a life of recovery. 
A group of individuals participating in a counseling session, engaging in supportive discussions as part of their recovery journey.

How to Put Yourself First

Emphasizing Self-Care in Recovery 

Often times, you may find yourself taking care of everyone else first. But in recovery, it’s time to focus on yourself. Here are some ways to practice self-care: 

  • Get enough rest and eat nutritious meals to help your body heal. 
  • Exercise regularly to boost your mood and reduce stress. 
  • Find activities that relax you, like reading or meditating, to give your mind a break. 

Letting Go of Negative Feelings 

Holding on to anger or resentment can make recovery harder. Learning to let go of these feelings and focus on your future can help you move forward. 

Two men walking through a park with arms around each other, smiling and enjoying camaraderie, symbolizing support and friendship.

AppleGate Recovery: Your Partner in the Recovery Journey 

At AppleGate Recovery, we understand the challenges of overcoming substance use and addiction. That’s why we offer medication-assisted treatment as part of our comprehensive recovery programs. Our dedicated team, including medical providers and counselors, will work with you to create a personalized plan that supports your unique journey to recovery. 

If you or someone you care about is battling with opioid or substance use, know that help is available. At AppleGate Recovery, we’re ready to support you every step of the way toward a healthier, substance-free life. Reach out to us by messaging or giving us a call to start your recovery journey today.

About Dr. Philip Isherwood, National Medical Director 

Philip Isherwood, M.D., is the National Medical Director for OBOT Services. He cofounded AppleGate Recovery and has been an integral part of their treatment programs since 2008. Dr. Isherwood has been treating opioid addiction since 2004. He supervises provider teams at the OBOT programs to ensure that patients receive professional, compassionate and respectful care. Dr. Isherwood graduated medical school from the University of Illinois and was an Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport. He has also served as an Emergency Medicine Physician. Currently, he is the Medical Director for an opiate treatment facility in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. He retired from the United States Army as a Colonel and served four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.