What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a drug which inhibits the opioid receptors in the brain, and stops any opioids such as heroin, methadone and morphine already in the user’s system from activating the receptors. This provides an opportunity to recover from an otherwise potentially fatal overdose.
However, the working period for the Naloxone is generally shorter than that of the original opioid, so it is still possible for user to overdose again once the Naloxone has worn off.
Why should it be promoted?
While Naloxone is not the ‘wonder drug’ it is sometimes made out to be, it gives people time. With no way of telling the strength of an opioid before use, and with the increasing prevalence of dangerous synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl (which has caused 60 deaths in the UK in only the last 6 months according to the National Crime Agency), the risk of an overdose is high.
By using a Naloxone kit, it is possible to inhibit the effects of an overdose long enough for the patient to be taken to hospital, where they can be treated and observed until there is certainty that the opiates are out of the user’s system.
Research by Inclusion, a member of the NHS APA, has shown Naloxone kits are also a highly cost effective response: for every £1 spent, there is a saving of £24.60 to the health economy.
In short, Naloxone does not reduce drug use, but it is a key tool in the arsenal for reducing drug-related deaths.