Naloxone is a safe antidote that has been in use for 30 years for opiate (such as Heroin or Vicodin) overdose and it can be administered by anyone, even those without medical training. Naloxone kits have been used by EMTs for years and it has been used in emergency rooms even longer, but now they are becoming more popular with the law enforcement community since more states are making it legal for them to carry Naloxone kits. Recently, we have seen an increase in opiate use across the US and this has lead to an increase in accidental overdoses. Naloxone counteracts the effects of the opiates on the system by blocking them at the neural level which restores normal breathing. Naloxone is given either by injection (which can even be done through clothing) or with a nasal spray. Both types can be administered to buy time for the affected person while they are transported to the hospital for further medical treatment.
The new heroin epidemic that this country has been experiencing has been attributed to the crack down on doctor hoping for prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Oxycodone and the associated street price increase that comes with this crack down. Heroin has become the cheap alternative to these other medicine cabinet drugs for people who are addicted. The crisis has reached a national level of attention, and this has prompted action by legislators to allow more access to Naloxone for first responders.
Naloxone does not require a prescription, but it is only distributed by hospitals, treatment centers or some pharmacies through standing orders from doctors. Family members of addicts, as well as concerned individuals are being urged to get a Naloxone kit because in the event of an overdose, it is a truly life saving drug. Since EMTs and police officers commonly come across people who have overdosed, these first responders now can provide the initial treatment and increase survival rates for overdoses. New York City has been piloting a program in Staten Island with enough success that they are now expanding the program throughout the other four boroughs. Since Naloxone is easy to administer, police and fire fighters are now being trained citywide so that more citizens will have access to Naloxone when they need it.