Pubdate: Wed, 21 Dec 2016
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jeff Lee
Page: A12


Naloxone has seen a meteoric rise in use in British Columbia as an
opioid overdose antidote.

As of mid-December more than 755 people had died from overdoses,
including 128 in November alone, according to the B.C. Coroners
Service. Naloxone, however, has become a first-line response for drug
users, first responders and others who witness an overdose.

Here is a primer on what naloxone is, what it does and doesn't affect,
and how prevalent it is in B.C.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control operates a Take Home Naloxone
program and website, where more information can be obtained.

Naloxone is an antidote for opioid drugs such as heroin, morphine,
methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl. It will also work on carfentanil,
an exceptionally powerful opioid increasingly being found on the
streets. It does not have any effect on cocaine, ecstasy, GHB or
alcohol. But since those non-opioid drugs can be contaminated with
fentanyl, the BCCDC advises to treat overdoses with naloxone anyway.

Naloxone has been used in Canada for more than 40 years, the BCCDC
says in public materials.

"Naloxone does nothing in someone that has not taken opioids, since
all it does is block the effects of opioids in the brain. Naloxone
cannot get a person high, and does not encourage opioid use. While
naloxone is a very safe drug, it may cause individuals dependent on
opioids to go into withdrawal," it states.

How the drug works is simple. Naloxone binds to the same sites in the
brain that opioids do. These sites control breathing.

But the BCCDC says naloxone binds more tightly, helping to cut off
receptors and restore breathing.

The kits the centre puts together and distributes to the public at no
charge contain between two and three vials of 0.4 mg of naloxone,
enough to administer over a 15-20 minute period while the overdose
victim waits for paramedics.

As of mid-December, the BCCDC had:

Dispensed more than 18,700 kits to 384 locations.

Trained more than 16,464 people in their use.

Received 939 overdose response forms.

The BCCDC sends out about 10,000 kits a month to a wide variety of
groups, including first responders, police and community health groups.

- - Source materials from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control - Toward
The Heart/Take Home Naloxone
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MAP posted-by: Matt