Wellness

This Nasal Spray Saves Lives: 3 Reasons to Have an Overdose Antidote on Hand

July 18, 2019

This Nasal Spray Saves Lives: 3 Reasons to Have an Overdose Antidote on Hand

Police officers carry it and schools keep it on hand. And now you can, too. It’s naloxone, the life-saving medication which can counteract an opioid overdose.

Overdose Risk for Opioid Medications

You may think it’s something you’ll never need. Perhaps. But as a pharmacist, I recommend naloxone for anyone who takes an opioid medication and:

  • Takes a benzodiazepine (Xanax)
  • Has COPD or asthma
  • Has a history of overdose or substance abuse disorder.

Each of these factors can increase a person’s risk of overdose. In fact, accidental opioid overdoses are more common than you might think. Americans are now more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than in a car crash, according to the National Safety Council.

State laws now allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription to consumers. This medication can temporarily stop the life-threatening effects of overdoses from opioids such as Vicodin, fentanyl, OxyContin and Percocet.

If you or a loved one is at risk of an overdose, talk to your physician or a CHI Health pharmacist about keeping naloxone on hand.  Many insurances cover the cost of this lifesaving medication.

Signs of an Opioid Overdose

You probably wear a seatbelt, you may even know some first aid. But do you know what to do in case of an opioid overdose? If someone takes more opioids than their body can handle, they can pass out, stop breathing, and die.  A person who is experiencing an overdose may have these symptoms:

  • Slow or not breathing
  • Tiny pupils
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Blue lips or nails
  • Slow, erratic or no pulse
  • Choking, gurgling sounds or snoring
  • Not moving and can’t be woken

Recognizing an opioid overdose can be difficult. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to treat the situation like an overdose. Naloxone has no potential for abuse and side effects from naloxone are rare.

You can’t use it if you don’t have it. Naloxone is available upon request at any CHI Health Pharmacy. Our pharmacists can teach you how to use the naloxone nasal spray. By taking a few precautionary steps, you could potentially save a life!

References:

Pharmacists Letter. Conversation Starter: Naloxone Quick Start Guide. https://pharmacist.therapeuticresearch.com/Content/Segments/PRL/2016/Aug/Naloxone-Quick-Start-Guide-10013. Accessed July 6, 2019.

College of Pharmacists of British Colombia.  Emergency use Naloxone in BC. 2019. https://www.bcpharmacists.org/naloxone. Accessed July 6, 2019.

Iowa Department of Public Health.  Opioid Overdose Recognition and Response. November 2016.

Narcan (naloxone) [package insert]. Radnor, PA: Adapt Pharma, Inc.; 2017.

Heather Hancock, PharmD, MBA, is the Team Lead at the CHI Health Florence retail pharmacy.  She joined the CHI Health Pharmacy Team just one year ago and enjoys working closely with the doctors in the clinic to provide excellent patient care.  In her free time she enjoys being active outside with her two children.

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