While most Americans do not support policies designed to increase distribution of naloxone – a medication that reverses the effects of a drug overdose – certain types of educational messages about its lifesaving benefits may bolster support for its use, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.
In a report published July 1 by the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers say that combining educational messages about naloxone with sympathetic narratives about people who could have been saved had the drug been available could be key to increasing support for wider availability of the medication.
With the skyrocketing increase in prescription drug use and abuse over the past decade, the researchers say it is imperative to find ways to combat the epidemic. One strategy is the increased availability of prescription-only naloxone to combat overdose. Naloxone, when taken in a short window after overdose, reverses the depression of the central nervous and respiratory systems caused by an excessive quantity of opioid painkillers.
Between 1999 and 2013, the number of people dying in the United States from a drug overdose involving prescription pain medications more than quadrupled, from 4,030 in 1999 to 16,235 in 2013 – that is more than 44 deaths a day. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1996 and 2010, more than 50,000 people in the United States were trained to administer naloxone, resulting in more than 10,000 reported overdose reversals. Naloxone is administered as an injection or nasal spray and is not itself an addictive drug.