10% of People Revived with Naloxone Die Within One Year

By Victoria Kim 10/30/17

Researchers say opioid overdose survivors need support after being revived with naloxone.

Naloxone Isn't Enough to Save Lives, Researchers Say
It's only the first step.

Is naloxone enough? Dozens of U.S. states have passed laws to expand access to naloxone—based on the idea that the more people have access to it, the more lives will be saved. 

Last week Walgreens announced that customers in 45 states can now purchase Narcan nasal spray (a common brand of naloxone) without a prescription. The lifesaving drug is now a staple in many first responders’ tool belts.

But a new study that looked at mortality rates after one year of being revived with naloxone reminds us that the “antidote” isn’t a cure-all—it’s only the first step in recovery. 

“Patients who survive opioid overdoses are by no means ‘out of the woods,’” says lead study author Dr. Scott Weiner. “These patients continue to be at high-risk for overdose and should be connected with additional resources such as counseling, treatment and buprenorphine.” 

The Massachusetts researchers analyzed 12,192 EMS naloxone administrations in the state between July 2013 and December 2015. (This translates to about 406 times per month that a person has been revived with naloxone by emergency responders.)

Their analysis found that nearly 10% of the patients who were revived died within one year. Of this group, 35.4% died from opioid overdose. The researchers say this highlights the need for post-naloxone treatment.

Their research also strengthens existing post-naloxone outreach programs in places like Colerain, Ohio, that try and connect with recent OD survivors to check in and connect them with addiction and/or mental health treatment services.

The researchers, who presented their findings Monday Oct 30 at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), also reported on the results of a survey of over 1,200 emergency physicians. 

The survey found that 87% of the doctors did not see a decrease in patients seeking opioids, and that 57% described detox and rehab facilities to be “rare or never accessible” for those in need of help. 

The researchers conclude that additional services such as counseling and addiction meds should be considered when trying to help OD survivors.

As emergency responders find themselves reviving the same opioid users, some have wondered how to approach repeat OD survivors.

The debate came up again early October, when a candidate for alderman in Manchester, New Hampshire suggested jailing OD survivors as a means of getting them help. 

Recovery advocate Ryan Hampton denounced Bob O’Sullivan’s “30-60-90 Plan,” which proposes locking up a person 30 days for the first overdose, 60 days for the second overdose, and 90 days for the third. 

Hampton said he was “outraged and disgusted” by the candidate’s proposal. “Legislation like this will set a dangerous precedent nationwide,” said Hampton. “For what it costs to send someone to jail, we could certainly pay for treatment.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr