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What Is Naloxone?

Opioid overdose is a matter of time. When someone is overdosing on opioids, the clock is running out and it is running fast. First responders, or anyone able to attend to someone overdosing on opioids, is running against the clock to try and save a life. Opioid overdose works systematically, first shutting down the lungs, then the heart and brain. With the right approach, opioid overdose can be reversed, even in the late stages. Medical treatment naloxone has been responsible for saving thousands of lives from opioid overdose. Naloxone is an opioid overdose reversal. The drug stops the opioid drugs from continuing to overflow the opioid receptors in the brain. An injection of naloxone works in mere seconds, reversing the life ending effects of an opioid overdose and saving a life.

How Naloxone Works

Opioids cause intoxication in the brain and body by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Opioid receptors and naturally occurring opioids in the brain exist in order to regulate pain. When we are injured, our brain naturally produces certain opioid chemicals which bind to the opioid pain receptors in order to reduce the experience of pain. Pain is reduced by slowing the body down, like the breath, which creates a state of calm and relaxation. This is why opioid prescription medications are painkillers and why so many people abuse opioids. In the event of an opioid overdose, the opioid receptors are flooded with the opioid hormones being created by the opioid drugs. When opioid chemicals bind to the receptors, all of the slowing down occurs, causing the respiratory depression which leads to death in opioid overdose. Naloxone binds to the opioid receptors, blocking other opioid chemicals from binding. When naloxone binds to the receptors, there are no side effects. As soon as the opioid chemicals stop binding, their depressive effects stop as well. Specifically, naloxone interacts with the opioid receptors which regulate breathing.

Why Naloxone Is Important

In 2016, more than 60,000 people died from opioid overdose. Today, the opioid issue in America is considered an epidemic. Opioid overdose has become so common it is considered a leading cause of death for adults under the age of 50. Reversing the effects of opioid overdose is necessary in order to save more lives and hopefully get more people into treatment. As of this writing, the government is working on a plan to fund naloxone distribution to all first responders.

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