Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that does not contain the morphine-like characteristics of other opioid antagonists. Generally, opioid antagonists act upon receptor interactions, blocking receptors from being activated. Naloxone does not act in the same way as these other opioid antagonists. Naloxone is used for opioid withdrawal and opiate overdose and one of the two chemicals found in the drug Suboxone. When used by itself, Naloxone does not produce dependence, but one will experience opiate withdrawal symptoms if it is used concomitantly with opiates.
Naloxone has been used before or after surgery, for cancer pain, or to reverse breathing problems or respiratory depression caused by opioids. Naloxone is shorter acting than naltrexone and tends to be used in acute situations. For example, polydrug users, heroin addicts, and pain pill addicts generally carry with them a supply of naloxone in case of a drug overdose. Addicts at this level of use are known to help each other by injecting one another with naloxone during an acute unconscious episode.
In a recent study on the impact on addicts’ use after receiving education on how to save a life with naloxone, researchers found a profound influence on both the person revived and the addict who gave the injection. Both experienced a renewed sense of hope about themselves and life. Many have stopped using drugs.
Naloxone is primarily used to halt the effects of narcotics. Naloxone is the first drug, along with glucose, that paramedics and emergency room physicians will administer when a patient is unconscious. Its use is similar in effect to that of glucagon for diabetics when they suffer from insulin shock. Immediately after injection of naloxone, a patient will snap up and act aggressively.
- Increased heart rate (Tachycardia)
- Increased blood pressure
- Accumulation of fluid in the lungs
Ultra-Rapid Opiate Detox (UROD) is a procedure that places an individual under anesthesia and administers naloxone to speed up the detox process while he or she is asleep. This allows detoxification and severe withdrawal symptoms to occur without being a discomfort to the individual.
Unfortunately, research has shown that this type of procedure alone, without ongoing medication management and psychosocial support or treatment in a drug rehab facility, has little impact on opiate addiction. Also, the risks of UROD can be significant due to the individual being under anesthesia. The risks compared to the rewards of this procedure continue to be evaluated by experts in the opiate dependency community.
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