Naloxone: Why It’s Needed and How Your Addiction Treatment Center Can Help

Drug misuse has been increasing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. You can see this in just a few notable figures: 

  • 100,306—the number of documented drug overdoses1 in the U.S. between April 2020 and April 2021
  • 93%—the number of overdoses reversed2 when naloxone is administered
  • 42%—the probability that someone will give naloxone3 to reverse an overdose

These statistics raise some major questions, perhaps most importantly, “Why are so many people still dying from opioid use when naloxone makes overdose deaths so preventable? Why is this miracle drug used so infrequently? How can we save more lives?”

All great questions. But the answers are a little complicated. So before we get to those, let’s talk more about naloxone.

What is Naloxone?

First patented in the U.S. in 1961,4 the FDA approved naloxone 10 years later to treat opioid misuse. Although this medication has been on the market for 60 years, naloxone really only entered the national consciousness in 2015 when the FDA approved a nasal spray formula marketed as Narcan.

Now, Narcan is a necessary tool for emergency services personnel who respond to overdoses. As noted in the statistics above, this medication is tremendously effective at reversing the effects of an opioid overdose—as long as naloxone is given within one to three hours.5

Naloxone and Narcan have completely changed how health officials respond to drug overdoses. These drugs have saved tens—perhaps even hundreds—of thousands of lives and will continue to do so as long as people misuse opioids.

A Surprising Study

A recent study6 published in The Lancet shed light on some of the public health system’s shortcomings when treating overdoses and using naloxone products. Specifically, how access to naloxone affects the outcomes of overdoses.

Ever since Narcan came on the market in 2015, this medicine has been a standard treatment stocked in everything from police cruisers to ambulances to emergency rooms. But the general public still doesn’t have enough access to Narcan and other naloxone products.

In some states, residents can get naloxone at community events and local government buildings. Other states allow you to order naloxone at a pharmacy without a prescription. But the strictest states still require prescriptions to obtain naloxone.

The study determined that the less access the public has to naloxone, the less likely a bystander will use this life-saving medication in an emergency. In South Carolina—where prescriptions are needed—there’s a dismal 2% chance a witness will use naloxone to treat an opioid overdose.7

Given the efficacy of naloxone, this number is unconscionable. Health professionals and communities need to come together and ensure that naloxone is available to everyone who needs it. And that’s where you come in.

What Can You Do?

Don’t be surprised to learn your center can do something to help this issue. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends a community-based approach to naloxone distribution. They believe, and the statistics are bearing out, that greater access leads to more lives saved.

In Massachusetts, 19 communities were part of a pilot program8 to test outcomes when access to naloxone was increased. The result of the programs was an 11% reduction in opioid overdoses!

Your treatment center could be part of the solution by becoming a community distribution point for naloxone. If this is prohibited by your local and state laws,9 joining with other activists to change those laws is another option.

Unexpected Benefits

Becoming a naloxone provider can come with some fringe benefits. Obviously, the goal of keeping naloxone on hand is to save lives. Period. By becoming a naloxone provider, you’re filling a public health role that may be missing in your community.

But taking on this role directly will not just save lives. You’ll also increase your brand awareness and grow your profile as an authoritative industry leader in the addiction treatment field; demonstrating your expertise and raising your visibility are both essential components to a competitive digital marketing strategy. Show the community that you’re an authority in addiction treatment by joining the mission to increase access to naloxone. 

Build trust by setting up a naloxone distribution program in your center and create a transformative digital marketing strategy to spread the word. Schedule your strategy session by calling 888.307.7304 to get started.


For a list of references, please contact us.