The truth about Naloxone

The Bangor Daily News contributed to a report from the Kaiser Health News, published Thursday  with a most unfortunate headline: “Patients get hooked on opioid overdose antidote, then prices skyrocket”

The article references the opiate overdose anecdote, Naloxone, which immediately reverses the effects of opiates upon entering the body and saves lives. Naloxone cannot be abused nor can it create physiological dependence. In other words, addiction to naloxone is quite literally an impossibility.

I’m confident that referring to Naloxone as something people can get “hooked on” was an oversight by Kaiser and the Bangor Daily, but frankly, the net effect is perpetuating stigma. Worse, in our sound byte culture, it constitutes dangerous misinformation.

Less than a year ago, our Governor exposed his ignorance by stating, “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”

I’m sure plenty of folks read or heard those words and formed an opinion against the drug. If one doesn’t understand addiction and the nature of how this medicine works, it may seem reasonable to believe that Naloxone is a waste of resources.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Naloxone, from a layperson’s perspective, should be viewed as a medication that functions in a similar fashion as an Epi pen. They’re simple, life saving measures. We could debate the merit of saving one life over another as our Governor does, but I haven’t found a way to do that that doesn’t constitute social Darwinism.

Frankly, I don’t give a damn why someone is dying. I’m going to do everything in my power to save them. I was in possession of Naloxone long before it was legal for me to be.

While it’s truly evil that the price of Naloxone has risen exponentially, it’s simple capitalism. To argue against the availability or efficacy of Naloxone is itself a form of sickness.

The drugs I’m against are the kind that ruin lives, not life saving ones.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.