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Naloxone: An Integral Part of Combating Drug Overdose Deaths

The Opioid epidemic is plaguing countless Americans, including close calls with prescription medication and fatal overdoses. The death rate connected to opioids has caught not only the nation’s eye, but the Knoxville community as well. The rising death toll linked to the abuse of illicit or prescription opioids was 224 in Knox county in 2016. This is an issue that the media, the government, and healthcare providers will not ignore.

Much of the current activism and legislation targeting the reduction of drug abuse is focused on prevention, Naloxone is one of the steps being taken. Naloxone is a combative drug that works to reverse the depression of the central nervous system that occurs in an overdose situation. Symptoms such as slowed or stopped breathing would lead a first responder to use Naloxone via a nasal spray or injectable. After the administration of Naloxone, an average of five minutes can pass before it starts producing signs of response.

On the January 22, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed a new plan of action in regard to the epidemic. This plan included placing Naloxone with every state trooper in the state of Tennessee.

At a local level, The Naloxone Community Collaborative held a press conference on Thursday, January 25 to share the results of a yearlong study on Naloxone deployment in Knox County. Over 1,200 doses of Naloxone were distributed to first responders last year. An increase in Naloxone deployments was throughout the study, with a sharp increase during January 2017. The report also highlighted demographics with the greatest receivers of Naloxone. The report showed 60 percent of individuals who received Naloxone by first responders in Knox County during the time of the study were male, and 88 percent of the individuals were Caucasian. These statistics are being used by a number of groups in the community to target prevention actions and treatment avenues.

Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch spoke during the press conference’s question portion about the facts he found most valuable from the conducted study. “We have a drug problem in Knox County. Our first responders are saving a lot of lives in our community. Only seven percent of those we have used naloxone on in Knox county administered by first responders have to have an additional use. Repeated was only seven percent.”

Naloxone has no negative side effects if opioids are not found in someone’s system. If illicit or prescribed opioids are present when naloxone is administered, the person will experience withdraw symptoms including nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, depression, anxiety and cravings for opiates.

In 45 out of the 50 states, naloxone can be purchased without a prescription and are available at pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens for those who need it.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please call the 24/7 TN Redline at 1-800-889-9789 for free, confidential information and referrals.

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