Narcan saves lives and that’s really all there is too it…or is it? It’s true that the widely used anti-overdose drug has saved thousands of lives since its introduction into the opioid and heroin treatment landscape. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Narcan kits used by civilians (non-law enforcement and emergency responders) have reversed nearly 27,000 overdoses between 1994 and 2014. The problem it is meant to curb, however, has gotten much worse. In New Jersey alone, a state that has been hit especially hard by the heroin and opioid epidemic, there have been more than 20 thousand Narcan deployments in the last two years.
The Fist Step on A Long Journey
While it is generally accepted that heightened use of Narcan can prevent fatal overdose rates, there continues to be debate over what its exact role should be in the overall recovery process. Narcan is not meant to be cure-all, and treatment and prevention advocates, alike have been emphatic about the need for back-end treatment options after patients are revived. The more animated critics of Narcan use argue that it still doesn’t prevent overdose victims from ending up succumbing to heroin or opioids again a short time later. Just lock detox is not the final stage of treatment, neither is revival from near-fatal overdose.
What Comes Next?
What, then, do we do once a loved one of ours has their lives saved by Narcan? The answer is: make it count. Intervention, in any possible form, is the first step after a loved one is saved from overdose. This is the time when it’s all hands on deck and, it necessary you can enlist the services of an experienced and qualified interventionist to help you with the logistics of the meeting. An interventionist can also help you arrange expedited admission into treatment, should your loved one agree to get help. Treatment at the physical and behavioral level is critical to the prevention of further substance abuse and subsequent risk of overdose.
An Enduring Reality
The tragic reality is that many second-chance overdose victims don’t seek treatment after being revived by Narcan. Many wind up overdosing a few weeks or months later; this doesn’t mean, however, that the drug doesn’t save lives. It’s part of an overall treatment and recovery plan, and you can’t offer treatment if the person isn’t alive to accept. Since Narcan’s arrival into clinical treatment, experts have rightly maintained that it’s the first step on a long road to recovery; tens of thousands of deployments later, this reality has changed, nor will it.