Image above from NBC Washington
Naloxone has been proven 93% effective in reversing opioid overdoses, but a report finds 15% won’t survive past one year.
Naloxone thus appears to be highly effective. It works by reversing the effects of opioids by competing for the mu, kappa and gamma receptors in the brain. As opioids can cause respiratory depression, naloxone can quickly block the opioids from causing this effect, preventing respiratory failure and death.
Image from NOPE-RI
A study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at 12,000 dosages of naloxone that were given by emergency medical services over the period of July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015. During that period 93.5% of people survived their overdose as a result of naloxone. However, one year after the study, only 84.3% of recipients were still alive. 35% of those who died, did so from another opioid overdose.
So two major points come out of this study. Firstly, naloxone works very well and if administered early, such as by first responders, is successful at saving so many lives. However, secondly, those who do receive naloxone need to be followed closely and receive help for their addiction and/or opioid use.
According to the CDC for every overdose death there are 30 non-fatal overdoses. Last year they reported 64,000 overdose deaths, which means potentially 2 million overdoses occur each year.
Successfully surviving one opioid overdose does not guarantee survival the next time around.
If patients don’t manage their addiction or change their use, they will be at increased risk of early death. Pain management, education, counseling and increasing access to treatment centers should be a must for anyone treated for narcotic overdose.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician