Free Naloxone and Overdose Response Trainings
What is naloxone and why is it critical to ending the addiction crisis?
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan among others, is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose. When given intravenously, naloxone works within two minutes, and when injected into a muscle, it works within five minutes; it may also be sprayed into the nose. The effects of naloxone last about half an hour to an hour. Multiple doses may be required to reverse the effects of an overdose, as the duration of action of most opioids is greater than that of naloxone.
Young people are hardest hit by this rise in overdose mortality. The sudden disappearance of many of our otherwise healthiest and most productive members of society has resulted in yet another record broken: U.S. life expectancy has dropped three years in a row, a multiyear decrease that has not occurred since World War II. Despite extraordinary funding for drug enforcement, crackdowns on pill mills and legislated changes in prescribing habits, deaths continue to rise.
The impact of naloxone distribution and use:
- In 2017, the drug company Evsio distributed and tracked 300,000 free naloxone kits nationwide. Out of the 300,000 kits distributed, approximately 5,000 lives were reported saved by the use of naloxone.
- A naloxone distribution program in Massachusetts reported in 2018 reduced opioid overdose deaths by an estimated 11 percent in the nineteen communities that implemented it without increasing opioid use.
- In 2017, the city of Dayton, Ohio reduced their overdose rate by 54% by blanketing the city with naloxone and providing on-demand harm reduction and peer recovery support services.
- On April 5, 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory urging all Americans to carry the lifesaving medication naloxone.
Someone – usually a young adult – dies from alcohol or other drugs every four minutes, with addiction and accidental overdose now the leading killer of people under 35 years of age. As many people suffer from addiction as from diabetes, and one and a half times that of all cancers combined. Our current national response to this crisis is nowhere near proportionate to its magnitude.
Recently, there has been a severe uptick in deaths resulting from overdoses in recovery residences (also known as “sober livings”) due to a lack of overdose response training and access to the overdose antidote naloxone. These homes tend to be the first-line of defense for people who are in early recovery from opioid use disorder. Here in the United States, there are an estimated 13,000 recovery residences. The vast majority of these homes (over 70%) do not carry naloxone and have not completed a formal overdose response training.
The Voices Project (501c3), in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, National Alliance of Recovery Residences, and the non-profit Direct Relief International has secured a donation of 1 million units of naloxone (from Pfizer) to be distributed to every recovery residence in the United States. Additionally, free naloxone will be distributed to community support organizations, harm reduction service providers, and families. The in-kind value of this specific naloxone contribution exceeds $20 million.
The naloxone distribution will take place over a 3-year period—with an estimated 333,000 units being distributed each year beginning in early 2019. Using the 2017 Evsio measurement, the potential impact for this initiative is 15,000 lives saved by 2021.