Emergency Medical Services Providing Lifesaving Drug for Opioid Overdoses
In November 2014, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) initiated a program to expand naloxone availability and use among emergency medical personnel across Oklahoma as part of a comprehensive program to reduce opioid drug overdose deaths. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication which can reverse an overdose if given in time. Today, more than 800 EMS personnel have been trained on the use of naloxone. Agencies have reported 42 lives saved. The number of lives saved is expected to grow as the program continues to expand through 2016.
Poisoning by prescription drugs is Oklahoma’s largest drug problem. Of the more than 5,300 unintentional poisoning deaths in Oklahoma from 2007 to 2014, nearly 80 percent involved at least one prescription drug and almost 90 percent of those deaths involved prescription painkillers, also known as opioids. In recent years, the number of unintentional poisoning deaths surpassed deaths from motor vehicle crashes. More unintentional poisoning deaths were caused by hydrocodone or oxycodone, both prescription painkillers, than alcohol and all illicit drugs combined. Adults ages 35-54 have the highest death rate of any age group for prescription overdoses.
Accidental poisoning from prescription painkillers can happen to people in any age group and from all walks of life. The scenarios listed below are just a few examples of the lifesaving impact of naloxone.
These are just a few of the many faces of prescription drug-related poisonings in Oklahoma and a snapshot of how naloxone can save lives. Naloxone can be administered intravenously, intramuscularly or intranasally. Naloxone is inexpensive and effective. It has no abuse potential and does not cause harm when administered in the case of a non-opioid overdose.
The EMS naloxone program is providing a life-saving measure to help counter the drug overdose epidemic in Oklahoma. For more information on naloxone availability, including ways individuals at risk can get a naloxone kit for home use, visit TakeAsPrescribed.org.
For more information about the EMS naloxone program and prescription drug overdose prevention, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit http://poison.health.ok.gov.
For help finding treatment referrals, call 211. To report illegal distribution or diversion of prescription drugs, call the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control at 1-800-522-8031.
This EMS naloxone project is supported in part by federal dollars from the Preventive Health Services division within Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Grant # 2B01DP009043).