Naloxone Used to Save a Life in I.V.

What is the Story Behind this Increasingly Common, Lifesaving Drug?


Carolina Watts

A lifesaving drug called Naloxone was used to revive a 19-year-old male University of California, Santa Barbara student on the 6700 block of Trigo Road in Isla Vista on Oct. 25. The emergency response was initiated at 11:45 p.m. when the student was unconscious with depressed breathing.

The previous day, in Orcutt, Naloxone was administered to two males ages 20 and 21 in the same condition; both survived. It was believed that all of the males were suffering from opioid overdoses.

If you have ever watched the drug-filled classic, Pulp Fiction, then you are familiar with the concept of Naloxone.

Although adrenaline, not Naloxone, was used to revive Uma Thurman’s character from an overdose, the scene still illustrates Naloxone’s effects on an opioid overdose patient.

Unlike that dramatic scene, Naloxone is administered through a nasal spray or a conventional injection, not a stab to the heart.  Although the effects remain the same, as the female character suddenly awakes from her unconscious drug induced state, Naloxone has the same effects on patients it has been used on.

In Santa Barbara county, the Sheriff’s Office states that the naloxone program has been up and operational for a little over six months. Since Nov. 2, deputies have utilized Naloxone in attempts to save seven individuals from opioid overdoses.

In five of the seven cases, the drug has been effective. In the other two cases, the patients were deemed “too far gone” by sheriff deputies.

Nationally, the United States is experiencing an opioid crisis. More than 90 people die from an opioid overdose each day in the U.S., according to The National Institute of Drug Abuse as of June 2017.

Between 1999 and 2002, opioid related death rates increased by over 91 percent. In 2015 alone, over 33,000 Americans passed away from an opioid overdose.

Thus, anti-overdose drugs such as Naloxone have been developed to save people from an increasingly common emergency. Such drugs are beginning to have a reputation in the medical emergency response community, with Naloxone now listed on The World Health Organization’s essential medicines list.

Naloxone has proven to be both effective and safe. The police department of Quincy, Massachusetts became the first department in the nation to require all officers to carry Narcan, the brand name version of Naloxone.

From 2010 to 2013, there was a 95 percent success rate, according to ABC. The drug has no life-threatening side effects.

Put simply by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Naloxone can (but does not always) cause withdrawal symptoms which may be uncomfortable, but are not life-threatening; on the other hand, opioid overdose is extremely life-threatening.”

Not only does Naloxone cause minimal negative side effects and prove to be quite successful, it is also relatively inexpensive and accessible. Also referred to as EVZIO and NARCAN, the drug can be purchased at local pharmacies, often without a prescription for between $20 and $40 per dose.

People are encouraged to have access to Naloxone and understand how to identify signs of overdose, as a faster response leads to higher full recovery success rates in people suffering from opioid abuse and overdose.