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August 6, 2018

Demi Lovato: What Is Narcan and How Did It Save Her Life

Demi Lovato: What Is Narcan and How Did It Save Her Life

Demi Lovato is an American singer, songwriter, and actress who suffered complications recently due to a drug overdose. The pop star has been very open about her battle with addiction and substance abuse (cocaine, heroin, and oxytocin), especially in recent months. She is said to have purportedly used Narcan as an emergency treatment that was administered to her.

This is just one amongst the many cases of substance abuse and was declared a public health emergency in the United States in October 2017. Frontline ER at this moment shares with you some quick facts you need to know about Narcan and how it can save lives.

Narcan (Naloxone HCl)

Naloxone is administered during a supposed opioid overdose; it can quickly reverse a potentially fatal overdose of heroin, methadone, morphine or hydrocodone. The drug comes in the form of nasal spray or as an auto-injection (similar to an EpiPen). Both contain the same active ingredient, naloxone hydrochloride and have been FDA approved since 2015. It is sold under the brand name commonly known as Narcan.

Naloxone can only be able to reverse an overdose from OxyContin, fentanyl, Vicodin, methadone, and heroin.

Naloxone Works as an Opioid Receptor Antagonist

When a person overdoses on the opioids mentioned above,   Narcan releases opioid molecules from the brain’s receptors and blocks them from binding again. This quickly restores a person’s breathing to normal if he/she was unconscious or experienced slowed down breathing due to an overdose.  According to FrontLine ER, people who have overdosed on other substances such as alcohol, sedatives, or have breathing problems due to lung-related diseases; the drug WILL NOT improve breathing.

Narcan Does Not Treat Addiction

Naloxone is a real life-saver in overdose emergencies. However, it should be noted that naloxone cannot effectively treat the underlying problem, and it’s not meant to replace emergency medical attention. Instead, counselling and medications such as methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol are the best options for recovery. 

Call 911 after Giving Narcan to Avoid Re-Overdose

Naloxone does not stay in the body for long, the effects last for about 30-90 minutes, so there is a possibility that a person that has overdosed may become unconscious again when it wears off. Think of the drug like CPR for a heart attack; both are crucial for keeping a person alive by gaining more time before emergency medical services arrive.  This means that after a patient wakes up, they still need to get to an ER soonest. Visit FrontLine ER in Dallas or Richmond for the best urgent care services.

Effectiveness

Since Narcan is in nasal spray form, it is mostly recommended by emergency responders like FrontLine ER because it’s quite easy to administer right away and also prevents the risk of contaminated needles when an auto-injection is used. You just place the nozzle tip in the nostril and press to release the medicine. On the other hand, injectables work as fast. When injected into the muscle, the substance starts working immediately.

Availability of Narcan

If you or your loved one is at high risk for opioid overdose, you can get naloxone without a prescription. For those without health insurance, Narcan costs range between $95 -$130 depending on where you are.  Walgreens carry Narcan in all pharmacies. You can also choose to get injectable naloxone and purchase together with a nasal adapter -to turn the syringe into a nasal spray. Paramedics will usually have naloxone together with the medication they have in an ambulance.

Side Effects

Some of the common side effects of Naloxone hydrochloride may include;

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever, weakness, and running nose

Other Important Things You Should Know

No matter how many times a person uses naloxone, they can never develop tolerance. This means that it can be used in every overdose situation regardless of the number of times used in the past. However, people may respond differently, and this could be due to the shelf life of the medication, how it is stored, a combination of the substances taken, and the dosage.

To ensure it lasts longer, naloxone should be kept in the dark and dry place. It loses its impact when exposed to too much heat or cold. However, it’s essential to have it handy in case of an overdose.

When using injectable Narcan, experts recommend using longer and thicker needles that are designed specifically for the muscles. The large needles also save time when injecting somebody else. Nevertheless, most laypeople have been able to use smaller needles with great success.

You should never hesitate to call 911 or go to the emergency room if you suspect a serious problem. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Naloxone is only but a temporary emergency treatment. The staff at FrontLine Emergency Room is on standby 24/7, ready to treat you and offer guidance and support.

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