Naloxone Now Available Over-the-Counter at Walgreens

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Opioid Crisis News: Naloxone Now Available Over-the-Counter at Walgreens

America is in the middle of a major crisis brought on by prescription pain relievers. Classified as a national emergency by President Trump, the opioid crisis claimed over 20,000 lives in 2015 according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Heroin, another opioid that is often used as an alternative to opioid pain relievers, claimed almost 13,000 lives in the same year. Opioid overdoses are the main driving forces behind the majority of preventable drug-related overdoses.

In an effort to make immediate treatment for opioid overdose more accessible to the people that need it, Walgreens continues to make naloxone available without prescription in more and more states.

Naloxone Uses

Naloxone is mostly used to reverse and block the effects of opioids, specifically in overdose cases. Given to a person who is experiencing an opioid overdose with symptoms such as slowed breathing, extreme drowsiness and loss of consciousness, the medication is able to reverse the symptoms and block further progression of the symptoms. However, naloxone is not a replacement for the emergency care that is needed during an overdose. Instructions for naloxone uses include contacting emergency care in the event of an overdose.

Why is Walgreens Making it Available Without Prescription

The goal of the pharmaceutical company is to better help the people they are meant to serve in their community. Based on findings by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, more people in America die from drug overdoses every day than from motor vehicle accidents.

By making it more accessible, they hope to help prevent overdoses death rate. A person can buy the medication without a prescription to be better prepared for a possible overdose situation with a friend or family member that is addicted to opioids such as prescription pain relievers and heroin.

How Does Naloxone Work?

When it is given to a patient suffering from an overdose, how does naloxone work? The medication binds to the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to. As a result, the usual flood of dopamine that is experienced doesn’t occur because the drug has nowhere to bind to. The medication takes between 2 to 5 minutes to bind to the opioid receptors.

The medication can be administered in two ways: by injection or as a nasal spray. One form of the injectable drug is usually given by a trained professional in order to manage the dose effectively. An auto-injectable version is also available that comes with a specific dose that can be injected into the thigh.

The nasal version is the newest addition and allows for needle-free administration. The dose quickly absorbs through the nasal lining and into the person’s bloodstream.

Possible Side Effects

The drug itself is very safe with complications and side effects being a rare occurrence. Side effects usually occur due to an allergic reaction to the medication. However, the most commonly reported side effects are as a result of the drugs intended effects: blocking receptors in the brain that release dopamine. People tend to feel the side effects commonly experienced during opioid withdrawal such as physical weakness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, mood swings and body aches among others (flu-like symptoms).

The move by Walgreens to make life-saving medication more accessible is a right step toward the opioid crisis.

If you require professional help to beat an addiction, contact Better Addiction Care at (800) 429-7690 today.

Sources:

https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf

http://news.walgreens.com/press-releases/general-news/walgreens-expands-availability-of-naloxone-without-a-prescription-to-33-states-and-washington-dc.htm