What have we done to prevent drug overdose? President Nixon electrified the nation when he declared a war on drugs in 1971. However, since that time, we have failed to make significant progress in combating and preventing drug addiction. Today, more than 23 million people need treatment for drug or alcohol abuse and only about 1 in 10 get the treatment they need.
Opioids are among the most potent and dangerous drugs of abuse. This class of drugs includes heroin, morphine, and other prescription painkillers. The use of opioids has skyrocketed over the past decade. The number of fatal drug overdoses, primarily from opioids, have reached levels never seen before.
Narcan: FDA Fast-Tracks New Nasal Spray to Combat Drug Overdose
Every day, 44 people in the United States die from a prescription opioid overdose. Still, heroin overdose impacts more people. In response to this drug overdose epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fast-tracked the approval of Narcan nasal spray. Narcan, the trade name for the drug naloxone hydrochloride, is a medication that can be administered through intramuscular injection. It works quickly to halt or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose by blocking the ability of opioid molecules to bind to their receptors in the brain. Thus, someone who has stopped breathing or is in a drug overdose crisis may be saved.
Until now, the Narcan nasal spray was not FDA approved, so it was only used “off-label” to stop drug overdose. The move by the FDA is part of a broader push at the federal and local level to increase access to Narcan.
Reversing Drug Overdose is Not Enough: Another Action is Needed
Sadly, the fast-tracking of Narcan nasal spray through the FDA process may be taking the focus away from a broader problem: increasing access to prevention and treatment efforts. Additional action is needed to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals affected by addiction.
Action to minimize drug overdose:
Increasing Addiction Awareness
Drug addiction remains one of the most stigmatized conditions in our society. Additionally, many people have misconceptions about the condition and who it affects. In reality, drug addiction can effect anyone. Developing a dependence on prescription medications is not a sign of weakness, but it does mean that you may benefit from getting professional help. Increasing awareness of the scope of the addiction problem in our country can help more people overcome opioid dependence and addiction.
Medical Drug detoxification and Treatment
With a growing opiate abuse problem, the need for effective drug treatment has spiked. Unfortunately, many people struggling with addiction do not have access to the appropriate effective and compassionate treatment. Withdrawal from opioids can be challenging, and too many people decide to go “cold turkey” or attempt withdrawal without adequate support. Increasing access to medical detox programs ensures that patients undergo the detoxification process in a supervised, medically controlled environment. Not only does this result in better treatment outcomes, it makes the withdrawal process more tolerable for patients.
Improved Mental Health Services
Drug abuse and mental health issues co-occur at a very high rate. The problem two-fold: being in emotional or psychological pain often causes people to seek drugs to numb their distress. At the same time, drug use changes emotion pathways in the brain, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety. A compassionate and individualized approach to treatment is important, as is offering high-quality aftercare keeps individuals on a trajectory toward good health.
For nearly two decades, the Waismann Method ® has been a leader in the opiate addiction treatment field. At the Waismann Method Center, we see firsthand the effects of opiates on patients and their families. Although fast-tracking Narcan nasal spray is a good first step to prevent drug overdose, we believe that a broader solution that includes increased access to non-judgmental medical treatment is essential. Contact us today to learn more about our different methods and approach to the treatment of opiate addiction and prevention of future drug overdose.
DrugFacts: Treatment Statistics. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
FDA Fast Tracks Approval Of Narcan Nasal Spray To Fight Opioid Epidemic. The Fix. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
Prescription Drug Overdose Data. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
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