The number of drug overdose deaths related to heroin and prescription drugs has increased exponentially in recent years. As a result, there has been more focus on the availability and use of a medication called naloxone, with is an opioid antagonist and reverses overdose situations immediately. Many lives have been saved due to the administration of naloxone.
Until recently, naloxone was only available to healthcare professionals and first responders. The medication was then approved for single-use applications at home. One of the problems with this method that is having to be addressed is why many primary care physicians are hesitant or reluctant to prescribe it for their patients and their family members.
Unfortunately, a study led by Kaiser Permanente into the low amounts of prescriptions written for naloxone reveals that many doctors are uncomfortable prescribing the medicine. One of the biggest reasons for this is the fear of offending the patient. Rather than talk about the potential for misuse or overdose, doctors have been avoiding the topic altogether. A further look into the prescribing practices of the physicians showed that a very low percentage of them had ever even prescribed the drug.
“Given the substantial increase in fatal overdoses from pharmaceutical opioids in the U.S. in recent years, expanding access to naloxone is a promising option to prevent future deaths. However, research shows there are gaps in knowledge about how to use naloxone in routine clinical practice. It’s evident that more education is needed to support clinicians as states begin legislating wider access of naloxone for bystanders of overdoses,” explained Ingrid Binswanger, lead author of the study.
Of course, the use of naloxone should be just the first step in an intervention. Avoiding an overdose on painkillers or heroin is an emergency situation, but once the person is stable then the intervention should continue by getting him or her into a treatment center that can help. Call us to speak with an intervention counselor who can provide more information.