Drug Policy

Surgeon General Advises Greater Use of Naloxone to Help Save Lives

Surgeon General Adams says "Research shows that when naloxone and overdose education are available to community members, overdose deaths decrease in those communities."


U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a rare (first since 2005) "national advisory" yesterday that said "For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life."

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It's an encouraging sign in a culture often all too ready to believe that anyone using opioids in a risky way just deserves to die that the federal government is giving its imprimatur to one of the most realistically efficient ways to limit deaths (which can be administered as a nasal spray or via injection) associated with opioid abuse.

Some of the points the Surgeon General made in his advisory include that:

Research shows that when naloxone and overdose education are available to community members, overdose deaths decrease in those communities.2 Therefore, increasing the availability and targeted distribution of naloxone is a critical component of our efforts to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths….

In most states, people who are or who know someone at risk for opioid overdose can go to a pharmacy or community-based program, to get trained on naloxone administration, and receive naloxone by "standing order," i.e., without a patient-specific prescription.3 ….most states have laws designed to protect health care professionals for prescribing and dispensing naloxone from civil and criminal liabilities as well as Good Samaritan laws to protect people who administer naloxone or call for help during an opioid overdose emergency.3, 5

"Naloxone is increasingly being used by police officers, emergency medical technicians, and non-emergency first responders to reverse opioid overdoses. There are two FDA-approved naloxone products for community use that are available by prescription, but too few community members are aware of the important role they can play to save lives.

Past Reason coverage on naloxone includes Jacob Sullum debunking the "moral hazard" argument against widespread naloxone availability; reports on widening legal availability in Pennsylvania, Maine, and California; and Ronald Bailey explaining how naloxone is one part of a general policy approach to opioids far smarter than Trump's general "get tough" bluster.

A useful state-by-state breakdown of laws regarding naloxone access and use.

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41 responses to “Surgeon General Advises Greater Use of Naloxone to Help Save Lives

  1. I suppose it’s better than suggesting masturbation.

    1. What, and go blind too?

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  2. At least one very red county near me in rural PA mandated its employees become at least certified (whatever that means) in administering naloxone. There might have been a few.

    1. What happened to the P.M. Links?

      1. For three weeks straight they didn’t get a single comment or even page view, so they discontinued it. If only you had come back around sooner.

        1. Oh, stop it. You’re the greatest victim of this travesty.

          Besides, I never left, I just stopped coming here as frequently. Between life, glioblastoma, and work, who has the time?

          They should bring back in-line video and the blink tag.

            1. Indeed! But it’s so quiet around here.

              1. The cool kids left and built a crude social media site with stone knives and bearskins.

                1. Did they get the federal permit first?

          1. Fuck, you have brain cancer? That sucks, brother. I hope it is treatable and that you get well soon.

            1. He better not be serious about that. I won’t have it.

              1. I am getting a device to help me walk better by electrical stimulation. Which is really cool. And will give me libertarian super powers.

            2. I got it in 2015. I got the usual surgery (during which they woke me up for an hour for some interactive playtime), radiation, and chemo. I completed my course of chemo just a couple of days ago. No recurrence, still able to work full time. I have some right side deficits, but therapy is slowly restoring more and more function. I can walk okay, but writing is chore. All in all, I’ve been blessed.

              1. Glad to hear you’re beating it. I’ve known two people who didn’t.

                1. It’s not good, statistically. You get to know others with GBM who have much more trouble. One has already died, and a couple of others I keep up with have had recurrences.

              2. I send you good wishes, mixed with subliminal demands that you stay healthy.

                1. Thanks. I heard a doctor where I go state that the only known cause is ionizing radiation. So my chances for libertarian super powers have doubled, between the radiation and the Bioness device.

    2. employees become at least certified (whatever that means)

      View the adrenaline shot scene in Pulp Fiction for a guide to the process.

  3. “Yeah, but they’re junkie lives”


  4. It is a good idea can’t see where anyone would have a problem with this.

    Too add. The past few years there has been a blizzard of legislation from the government and state medical boards aimed at preventing overprescribing and pill mills. Doctors need to jump through hoops to prescribe a weeks worth of opioid analgesics for just acute trauma or post operative pain. Chronic pain is a nightmare and most patients now need to be referred to pain specialists. No doubt a specially few would choose in the current environment. Doctors have had careers ruined, lost incenses or been imprisoned for practice which was totally acceptable a decade ago.

    Recently I saw a headline demonizing gabapentin a non narcotic alternative docs have been using in place of the opioids.

    Enough already.

    Reading comments and articles from doctors and medical blogs recently the community has begun to push back. There is a growing consensus that the pendulum has swung to far and is at the point of hysteria.

    1. Doctors have had careers ruined, lost incenses or been imprisoned for practice which was totally acceptable a decade ago.

      Glibertarian moment, yo.

    2. While I doubt docs are a natural constituency for opposing the Drug War, when it comes to resisting attacks on their profession, it’s to be hoped they mobilize.

      1. Generally, if much of your work involves patching up – or trying to – the aftereffects of bad decisions, then the argument for legalizing those bad decisions is more of a hard sell.

        1. Their work when they’re not killing people, breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria, and making their own decisions.

          1. That would make Medicare and the insurance companies happy. The hospital admin will be displeased because there are no billable codes for those procedures.

            1. Doctors are also primary profiteers of the drug war. They “diagnosis” the “disease” of “addiction,” and many of them make a fortune treating it.

      2. Docs are the first-line enforcers of the drug war. They mobilized long ago: agreeing to narc on patients to save their own necks. That includes “free market” organizations like The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. How did the drug war start? Essentially with the creation of prescription drug laws, largely at the behest of doctors who wanted hegemony.


      1. I know, I just saw it. I thought I was bringing hot news to the commentariat, and Shackenfreud was already sexed up about it.

    2. There goes my backup plan.

  5. Shit you can’t make up.

    When the escalators at the University of Washington light rail station go down there’s only one solution. Make everyone stand in line and wait for the elevator.

    That was the case March 16, when both down escalators leading to the station platform were out of order. One person tweeted it was taking 20 minutes or more simply to get to the platform.

    Sound Transit studied the problem and came up with a possible solution: use the escalators as stairs.

    1. However, the most recent performance analysis of the escalators are encouraging, the board was told. Since February 2017, escalator availability shot above 95 percent ? at twice the cost to maintain as the agency’s other escalators.

      Hey boss, my systems were only down 439 hours last year, where my raise at?

      1. Better add another headcount tax to cover the cities heroic efforts.

    2. I have a cunning plan. Use the escalators as stairs in both directions. The possibilities!

  6. And who appointed this surgeon gen’l?

  7. A distraction from the fact that prohibition kills.

  8. I’m commenting on Hit & Run in order to buy sex.

    Anybody got a problem with that? I’m asking you, FOSTA/SESTA!

    1. Commenting here pays enough to buy sex?
      I thought those were spam ads!

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