The acute danger of fentanyl is no longer news to anyone who uses drugs or has a loved one who has experienced addiction. Since the early 2000s, overdose deaths from the now ubiquitous synthetic painkiller have risen over 1,000% – to the point where deaths that include fentanyl now account for at least 70% of all drug-related overdose deaths.
Whether you’re an active opioid user, a substance user who is concerned about the boom in laced products, or anyone who cares about someone in active addiction, know this: We understand the traumatizing fear, mental exhaustion, and deep uncertainty that the fentanyl crisis has added to the already constant battles of drug use and addiction.
At Sunflower, our goal is to help everyone find their own path to recovery and peace. But we know all too well that the steps it takes an addict to choose to begin a treatment program are often long, and the journey runs the risk of being deadly until the day they choose to be fully sober.
We also are certain: Every human – no matter where they might be on their own path of using, addiction, or recovery – deserves the chance to decide their next step tomorrow, regardless of what happened yesterday.
That’s why we urge everyone — no matter their role in the addiction or recovery community — to learn about and carry Narcan.
Let’s talk about it.
What is Narcan?
Narcan is an opioid reversal drug that counteracts the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. In simpler terms, when someone is actively dying of an opioid overdose, a dose of Narcan can save their life.
If you’ve heard of an opioid-reversing drug but it was called a different name, don’t be confused. Narcan is the original brand name of the drug now generically called Naloxone. Calling all Naloxone the name Narcan is just like calling all tissues Kleenex, or all kinds of lip balm Chapstick. You can call it either to any pharmacist, addiction specialist, or emergency responder. They’ll know what you’re talking about and no matter what term you use, they’ll know what to administer or provide you.
How Does Narcan Help Fentanyl Overdose?
Scientifically, Narcan works by binding to the opioids within someone’s body that are depressing the respiratory system to the point of failure and reversing their effects, so the overdosing person’s body can begin to work and breathe again.
The drug has the same effect on any kind of opioid in someone’s body, and can also be used to reverse an overdose in an individual that has used heroin, Oxycontin, Vicodin, or many other opioids.However, keeping Narcan on hand is particularly vital in the war against fentanyl overdoses because the extreme potency and often vastly incorrect measurements of the product make the ability for any bystander to administer the reversal drug immediately a life-or-death difference.
Narcan or any version of Naloxone only works on people who have opiates in their system, and there are no adverse effects to anyone who is not under the influence of an opiate since the drug has nothing to bind to within the body. You cannot over-administer Narcan to a person or hurt a person who is not in need of it by administering a dose. There are very few risks, and the benefits could be immense.
Where do I get Narcan?
Here’s the great news: Narcan or some version of Naloxone, plus training to use it, is available to anyone.
If you’re a Kansas resident, you can get a state-funded kit here. You can also purchase Narcan or some version of Naloxone over the counter without a prescription at pharmacies in all 50 states.
Narcan can be carried and administered by anyone. Narcan can save anyone’s life. Narcan can give anyone another chance to find their own path to recovery tomorrow – and wherever you might be on that path, Sunflower is here to support you too. Reach out if you’re ready to take the next step towards treatment.