Research is now saying what we have known for quite some time, that opioid overdose survivors need support after being revived with naloxone. Naloxone alone is not enough, along with knowing how to administer Narcan. The problem isn’t the overdose it is what is the driving the use. And while Naloxone is great for keeping them alive it doesn’t work in keeping them sober especially in Mass Rehab.
Naloxone in the United States
Dozens of US states have now passed laws to expand access to naloxone—based on the idea that the more people have naloxone, the more lives will be saved. This is while Walgreens announced that customers in 45 states can now purchase Narcan (naloxone nasal spray) without a prescription. You might be thinking to yourself: “How do you administer Narcan?” The drug has now become a staple in many EMT’s tool belt along with knowing how to administer Narcan.
Mortality Rates of Overdose Survivors
But a new study that looked at mortality rates after one year of being revived with naloxone is a stark reminder that the naloxone isn’t a cure for the issue and simply is what it is, a tool to keep addicts alive.
“Patients who survive opioid overdoses are by no means ‘out of the woods,’” says lead study author Dr. Scott Weiner. “These patients continue to be at high-risk for overdose and should be connected with additional resources such as counseling, attendance at drug treatment centers and buprenorphine.”
The Massachusetts researchers analyzed 12,192 EMS naloxone administrations in the state between July 2013 and December 2015. (This translates to about 406 times per month that a person has been revived with naloxone by emergency responders.)
Their analysis found that nearly 10% of the patients who were revived died within one year. Of this group, 35.4% died from opioid overdose. The researchers say this highlights the need for post-naloxone treatment.
This research backs up the idea that there needs to be post-naloxone revival programs or centers that can connect recent OD survivors with addiction and mental health treatment services. The researchers, who presented their finding yesterday at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians, also reported on the results of a survey of over 1,200 emergency physicians.
The survey found that 87% of the doctors did not see a decrease in patients seeking opioids and that 57% described detox and rehab facilities to be rare or never accessible for those in need of help. The researchers concluded that services such as counseling and addiction medication should be an option for OD survivors. As EMTs find themselves reviving the same opioid addicts again and again, they have wondered how to help these people.
A debate came up in October about possibly jailing OD survivors as a means of getting them help by a candidate for alderman in Manchester, NH. This was denounced by a recovery advocate who was outraged and disgusted by the proposal. Stating, “Legislation like this will set a dangerous precedent nationwide. For what it costs to send someone to jail, we could certainly pay for attendance at drug treatment centers.” like Mass Rehab.
If you or someone you love needs help at drug treatment centers and more info on how to administer Narcan. GateHouse can help. Call us today.