Narcan – a weapon against drug overdoses?

The Centers for Disease Control has stated that drug overdose is the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the United States with 43,982 deaths in 2013, surpassing motor vehicle crashes.

Since 2010, the number of drug overdoses from heroin and other opioid drugs has nearly tripled, with the largest increase in overdoses in people ages 18 to 30. This puts college-aged adults at an increased risk when dealing with heroin and other opioids.

In Nov. 2015, the FDA approved the use of the nasal spray Narcan. Narcan, the first FDA-approved nasal spray of the drug naloxone hydrochloride, is an easy-to-use medication that can save lives by stopping or reversing the effects of an opioid overdose, including drugs such as oxycodone, morphine, and heroin.

“When someone overdoses on an opioid, it can be difficult to awaken the person, and breathing may become shallow or stop, leading to death if there is no medical intervention,” said the FDA in their approval of Narcan. “If naloxone is administered quickly, it can counter the overdose effects, usually within two minutes.”

Since its approval, Narcan has been purchased in mass quantities by police departments across the country and has already helped save thousands of lives. Now, many schools across the country are beginning to purchase the drug to have on hand in case of an emergency situation. In a deal announced in January, the Clinton Foundation, headed by former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, announced they had reached a deal with Adapt Pharma, the makers of Narcan. The Clinton Foundation said that they would be offering Narcan for free to all U.S. high schools and offering it at a discounted price to any U.S. colleges. All of this is in an effort to fight the number of drug overdoses each year and to save the lives of young individuals.

When asked about Narcan, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety Ronnie Shortt said that he was aware of the drug. He went on to state that the campus police do not use Narcan nor have it available for use, but local EMS personnel do. He went on to say that in the case of any medical emergency, EMS would be notified and could then administer the drug.

Fortunately, heroin and opioid abuse is not as prevalent at UVa-Wise as other universities. For the local area, however, Southwest Virginia continues to top the charts nationally in prescription drug abuse.

Many of the prescription drugs abused are part of the opioid class, as they relieve pain. These drugs include: Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Kadian, Avinza, and codeine.

This makes Narcan a vital drug for emergency response personnel to have on hand for emergency overdose cases with the possibility of saving a countless number of lives.

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