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Will Narcan Reverse Fentanyl?
The opioid epidemic and mental health crises impact everyone, everywhere. The catastrophic mix of opioid overdoses and suicides has led to a decrease in US life expectancy for the second time in three years. The epidemic has gotten to the point where the fatality rates are higher now than they were during the peak of the HIV epidemic or traffic accidents.
Over 70,000 people overdosed from opioids such as heroin, morphine, and fentanyl in 2017. Opioids have destroyed too many lives and torn apart families in indescribable ways.
You know what’s truly devastating? The number of overdose deaths would be thousands more if not for Narcan, the life-saving emergency naloxone delivery medication that reverses opioid overdose effects with minimal side effects.
What Are Naloxone and Narcan?
Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that prevents overdose deaths from any and all opioids, including fentanyl, heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. When administered, it blocks opioid receptors so that the illicit opioids cannot continue to bind to the brain receptors.
It has proven exceptionally capable in reversing the toxic and fatal effects of opioid overdoses. Specifically, naloxone allows the person who overdosed to begin breathing again. It can be safe for use in pregnant women with medical supervision.
Narcan is the patented intranasal spray that delivers naloxone through the nasal cavity. Narcan is not over the counter. This is an issue because most people who obtain and keep Narcan kits on hand are not people who are using heroin.
Usually, first-responders, family members, and community members hold on to Narcan in the event of someone else having an overdose episode. For this reason, many states have set up ways for pharmacists to prescribe Narcan without a physician present. Referred to as a “standing order,” this process is similar to how pharmacies can administer flu shots without a physician on site.
In California, legislation was passed in 2016 to approve standing orders for Narcan. However, a recent study found that less than 25% of California pharmacies permit people to obtain naloxone without a prescription even though these pharmacies were eligible for a standing order agreement with a physician.
Still, as the life-saving potential of Narcan becomes more accepted and mainstream, Narcan is more available for family members and community members to use to save the lives of their loved ones.
Narcan: Effective Against Fentanyl
Heroin addiction has never been so deadly. It isn’t that heroin has gotten deadlier. Fentanyl mixed with heroin makes for a deadly opioid cocktail. While heroin is anywhere from 10 – 50 times stronger than morphine, fentanyl is more than 100 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl-tainted opioids have rocked communities across America. There are numerous reports of fentanyl strains that are Narcan-resistant. Acrylfentanyl, completely illegal with no medical uses, is a synthetic opioid, responsible for bursts of overdose deaths, from Pennsylvania to Alabama and across America.
Acrylfentanyl is not new, and it isn’t any more potent than other fentanyl analogues. Acrylfentany is, however, worrisome because there are well-documented cases in which multiple administrations of Narcan are needed to revive someone who overdoses on it. For comparison, rarely does Narcan need to be administered more than twice for heroin overdoses.
The dangers of using opioids are well-chronicled. Opioids laced with fentanyl make the risks of using heroin exponentially riskier. It is almost impossible to tell when fentanyl has been added to any drug.
If you find that you have to administer Narcan to a loved one, make sure that you have at least two intranasal sprays handy. Narcan comes pre-packaged with two of these. If the first one doesn’t revive the person immediately, follow up with the second spray.
In extreme cases, it may take an additional one or two, especially if Acrylfentanyl is the cause of the overdose. If you have questions on how to use or obtain Narcan, their website has resources to help you request a prescription.
Opioid Addiction and Narcan
While Narcan can save lives in the event of an overdose, it is not recommended to treat addiction. In the aftermath of an overdose, getting your loved one help is paramount. Recovery from opioid dependence is a life-long process that begins with an acknowledgment of the addiction and an action to start learning to live sober. Boardwalk Recovery Center can answer any questions you have about opioid addiction, treatment options, and what to expect as your loved one begins a sober and clean life.