A drug used to reverse the effects of heroin may be just moments away to help reduce the number of deaths caused by drug overdose in North Carolina.
Naloxone can be distributed as a standing prescription allowing medical providers under doctors to give the drugs to people who are at risk for an overdose or who witness an overdose all while maintaining immunity.
The new law was lobbied by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), an organization of volunteers that helps distribute naloxone
“It brings people back to life,” said NCHRC Executive Director Robert Childs.
With over 1,100 fatal overdoses every year in North Carolina, it’s the state’s second leading cause of injury death.
In addition to heroin, naloxone also reverses the effects of prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone.
“Everyone is at risk in North Carolina, especially with the amount of opiates and opioids available,” said Childs.
According to experts, someone overdosing on an opioid or an opiate feel euphoric or high. It is followed by feeling tired and falling asleep. When the person falls asleep, their breathing slows and eventually stops. If at any point during that time a person is injected with naloxone, the persons breathing will be restored and the overdose negated.
“When a person gives it, the naloxone enters the brain and kick the opiates off the receptor sites and it blocks it from reattaching,” said Registered Nurse Captain Leilani Attilio.
The NCHRC gives kits of naloxone for free to anyone who is at risk or knows someone at risk for an overdose. When a person receives the kit, they are given brief training on how to use it.
Each kit cost the organization $10 but NCHRC accepts donations to help cover the expense.
“This is just a way of getting this medication to people who may feel stigmatized by their addiction,” said Attilio.
According to representatives at the NCHRC, naloxone cannot be abused. If taken without experiencing an opiate or copied overdose, it will have no effect.
“It’s like drinking water,” said Childs.
For more information about naloxone or how to get it, visit the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.