Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


Emergency Medicine, Addiction Medicine


Dr. Nancy Reid


Background: For the last three decades, opioid deaths have topped the charts of unintentional death, with no sign of improvement. This crisis is a global epidemic that has policymakers and practitioners scrambling to find a method to decrease deaths due to opioid overdose. Naloxone is a known opioid antagonist that can prevent death in an opioid overdose. Approved by the FDA, naloxone is available in the United States, in most states, without a prescription. The emergency department has a unique opportunity to provide treatment and education for patients who suffer from an opioid overdose.

Objective: This article explores whether prescribing naloxone to those with known opioid abuse disorder (OUD), or those who associate with opioid abusers can decrease the overall mortality causally linked to opioid overdose.

Methods: PubMed and Medline databases were searched for articles from 2015-2020 using the keywords opioid overdose, prescribing naloxone, opioid abuse, and naloxone access.

Findings: Prescribing naloxone has become more commonplace in the last decade. However, there remain several barriers in placing take-home naloxone (THN) in the actual hands of those with OUD. The most recent evidence suggests that if we can get THN in the hands of patients with OUD or third-party friends and family combined with other strategic harm reduction methods, we will see a decrease in opioid overdose deaths.


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