Life Is Hell After Narcan, Heroin’s Miracle Cure

THE DAILY BEAST (3/22) – Naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) has been the subject of increasing media attention since the Food and Drug Administration approved a nasal spray version of the drug in last November to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, namely severe respiratory depression that can be fatal if left untreated. Narcan works by reversing those symptoms. A number of police departments now outfit their officers with it, and changes to state laws have made the drug legal for sale over the counter in some pharmacies. Read more

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  1. After reversing an OD with Narcan, a great opportunity for treatment presents itself. Patients are thrown into acute withdrawals (and therefore are extremely uncomfortable). Currently, they are often promptly discharged from the ER (or they sign themselves out AMA) and given a list of treatment facilities that will likely have a wait list. This will inevitably result in a relapse. A better way would be to start them on buprenorphine right there and then, in the ER. Buprenorphine will reverse the Narcan-induced withdrawals and eliminate cravings, making it possible for patients not to quickly relapse. Medically supervised buprenorphine induction after Narcan could make a big difference in outcomes. Patients should be discharged from the ER with a supply of buprenorphine that can last until appropriate outpatient treatment is secured. Many lives would be saved this way.

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