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Friday, July 10, 2015

Changing Americas' View On Naloxone

Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Across the nation stories about the miracle drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan ®, saving the lives of people who have overdosed on opioid narcotics are quite common. The drug has the power to reverse the effects of an overdose, if it is administered in a timely manner and other narcotics are not involved. While it may seem like Americans, addicts or not, would support increased access to naloxone with the exponential increase of overdoses, the reality is quite different - most do not support policies designed to expand the drugs reach.

New research suggests that using educational messages about the lifesaving benefits of naloxone may change people’s views and increase support for the drug, ScienceDaily reports. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health believe that a combination of educational messages with sympathetic narratives about people who may be alive today, if the drug were more available, may change people’s minds about the drug.

All the research available today suggests that America is in the grips of a prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. The majority of those afflicted are not addicts living on the street, opioid addiction has touched every demographic and it is well known that addiction does not care about socio-economic standing.

“Naloxone is an extraordinarily effective treatment and has been proven to save lives," says the study's leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "Despite this, stigma toward people with drug addiction has kept naloxone from becoming an accepted and widely used tool to combat overdose deaths. We are stuck in a pattern of believing that drug addiction is a moral failing rather than a chronic health condition that can be managed with treatment and so we aren't taking important steps to save lives."

The report was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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