Heroin and opiate addiction is a deadly disease that continues to plague millions of Americans.
Heroin is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs and it carries with it a very high risk for death by overdose.
As heroin and opiate addiction continues to become an increasingly large public health problem, many professionals in the medical and pharmaceutical industries have clamored to find ways in which the number of deaths related to heroin use may be minimized.
One such tool being presented by medical and public health officials is what some are referring to as a "heroin overdose epipen." This device is a prophylactic form of an already widely used drug called Naloxone.
How Prophylactic Naloxone Works
Prophylactic Naloxone is often referred to as an epipen for addicts because of the fact that it is administered in much the same way that an allergic epipen is.
In much the same way that a person with severe allergies carries an epipen in case of allergic reaction, an addict or those around them may carry a dose of prophylactic Naloxone in the event that an addict begins to overdose.
The drug is administered via injection and can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Drug May Prevent Deaths
Naloxone has long been used by paramedics and other emergency health professionals to reverse the deadly symptoms of overdose. Unfortunately, however, many more deaths continue to occur because of the fact that by the time paramedics arrive at the scene of an overdose, it may be too late.
Prophylactic Naloxone drastically decreases the amount of time between an addict beginning to exhibit signs of overdose and the administration of the drug that will reverse the overdose's effects. This may save countless lives that would have otherwise been lost while an addict's loved ones waited for medical help to arrive.
Though Naloxone on its own may not fully reverse an overdose, it may stabilize a patient enough that they are able to get to the emergency room for further care. Doctors and pharmacists estimate that the drug can reverse the effects of overdose for about ten minutes: ten minutes which may be the difference between life and death.
Treating Both Overdose And Addiction
The problem of heroin and opiate addiction is so far reaching and so serious that officials agree it can only be solved if health care professionals, law makers, and law enforcement officers work together for a multi-pronged approach.
Naloxone has received some criticism from those who believe that it may actually diminish an addict's desire to attain sobriety. Most medical professionals disagree with this position, however, arguing that the drug only serves to save the lives of those who would continue to use, whether treatment for overdose was available or not.
That said, professionals from all walks of life generally agree that in order to stem the tide of heroin and opiate addiction, it is necessary to address the problem in a number of ways.
Some of the ways that have been proposed include:
- Increased training for doctors who prescribe opiate pain killers
- Programs designed for the safe disposal of unused medication
- Greater communication between various pharmacies and physicians
As all medical practices transition into electronic recording systems, it will be easier for various doctors to note whether a patient has attempted to procure a dangerous drug from a different doctor, which will help doctors identify patients who are addicted or at risk for addiction.
Tools like Prophylactic Naloxone may be very important keys in beginning to drastically lower the number of deaths brought about by this disease.