NARCAN Saves Lives

Here is a step-by-step guide on administering naloxone in the case of an opioid overdose

In March 2020, the commotion of the COVID-19 pandemic had many overlook a silent epidemic sweeping the nation. From March 2020 to March 2021, there were over 96,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 67.8% of which were caused by opioids like fentanyl and heroin. Other drugs that may contain opioids are loperamide, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and dextromethorphan. Opioid overdoses are at an all time high, so it is important to know about opiate antagonist naloxone.

Here are 10 steps on how to use naloxone to aid a person overdosing.

1. Firstly, it is important to know the signs of an overdose. The American Psychological Association lists some opioid overdose signs as a person being limp, conscious but unable to respond, pale in the face, having blue lips and/or fingertips with a pulse that is slow, erratic or not there at all. This person will have irregular respirations, causing little to no breathing. Vomiting might also occur, as the person may sound as if they are choking or gurgling. “Cold clammy skin and constricted pupils are additional signs of an overdose,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. Once you see the signs of an overdose, check for a response from the person who is overdosing. You can shake and shout to try to wake them. If they do not respond, resort to roughly rubbing your knuckles into their chest bone for approximately five to 10 seconds.

3. If the person fails to respond, it is time to call 911 emergency services. While on the phone with the operator, inform them of the overdose. If one is afraid of getting the person who is overdosing into legal trouble, they could be protected by Good Samaritan laws. These bills grant immunity from prosecution and penalty towards people who help others suffering from a drug overdose.

4. The naloxone nasal spray may be needed before the arrival of the ambulance. To prepare usage, peel the tab off the packaging carefully. It is important not to take out the naloxone until it is ready to use.

5. To hold the naloxone correctly, the thumb should be on the bottom of the plunger, while the index and middle fingers are on either side of the nasal spray nozzle. The nozzle should be pointed upward to the sky and the plunger should be facing downwards to the ground.

6. For effective use of the naloxone, the person experiencing the overdose must be in the proper position. This means that you would have to tilt their head back and support their head with your hand firmly under their neck.

7. Insert the tip of the naloxone nozzle in one nostril to the point where your fingers are resting against the bottom of the person’s nose. Then push the naloxone plunger to release the dose and remove from the nostril after dose is released.

8. Observe the person after giving them the dose. If they do not respond or arouse within two minutes, a second dose of naloxone can be given. Position the person from being on their back to their side. Their knees should be outstretched to prevent them from rolling onto their stomach, and their hands should be underneath their head as a form of support.

9. If the person is still unable to wake up or breathe, CPR is in order. Place them back on their back, check the airway for any obstructions and perform 30 chest compressions accompanied by two breaths into the person’s mouth. Repeat until paramedics arrive.

10. If the person wakes up, explain what had occurred and accompany them until the paramedics arrive. This is incredibly important as naloxone only delays an overdose for 30 to 90 minutes and does not cure an overdose. Upon meeting with the paramedics, inform them that you had given the person naloxone.

You have now acquired the wherewithal needed to handle opioid overdose situations. Important notes: naloxone is to be used specifically for opioid overdoses and getting medical assistance is an essential step of the process.

You can dispose of the old medicine and get more naloxone for future readiness. If you do not already know where to get naloxone, there are a plethora of outlets and resources, such as Next Distro. Some pharmacies in California allow people to buy naloxone without the need of a prescription.