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Naloxone – a harm reduction strategy

Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse opioid overdose. It works by blocking opioids
from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain.
Naloxone is effective in reversing overdose from both legal and illegal forms of opioids. This drug can be injected intramuscularly (into a muscle) or delivered by using a nasal spray. Naloxone can be administered by medical professionals such as paramedics, or by friends, family or bystanders who might be responding to an overdose.12

Naloxone is used as a harm reduction strategy. This means that it is not a strategy to stop the use of specific drugs. It is used to reduce the immediate dangers associated with an overdose, such as accidental death. Naloxone is available from pharmacies without a prescription, however, it is also possible to have naloxone prescribed alongside prescription medication. This way, if someone experiences a prescription opioid overdose, naloxone is available if required. Evidence shows that there is no potential for the development of dependence on
this drug.12

Best practice is to provide training to those who administer naloxone. Refer to ‘Taking Action’ at the end of this document for more information on where to find training providers

naloxone

Opioid use following administration of naloxone

If someone is administered with naloxone following opioid overdose, they may experience an urge to use more opioids once they are revived. This is especially the case if they are experiencing dependence; they may feel the beginning of withdrawal symptoms.

Naloxone is a short-acting drug, meaning it stays in the body for a short period of time.
However, some prescription opioids can stay in the body for much longer (some for over 12
hours). This means that while naloxone will wear off, the opioids will remain in the system. If the person takes more opioids after taking naloxone, they may experience a second overdose.10

Taking opioids after the administration of naloxone is very dangerous and should be avoided.

References
  1. Victorian State Government. (2018). About SafeScript. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  2.  World Health Organisation. (2019). Lexicon of alcohol and other drug terms published by the World Health Organisation. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Opioid Harm . Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  4. NPS MedicineWise. (2015, July 8). Benzodiazepine dependence: reduce the risk. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  5. Brands, B., Sproule, B., & Marshman, J. (1998). Drugs and Drug Abuse (3rd ed.). Toronto: Addiction Research Foundation.
  6. ScriptWise. (2019). Prescription Benzodiazepines. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018, May 16). Drug-Induced Deaths in Australia: A changing story. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  8. Victorian State Government. (2018, Febuary 6). RTPM Regulatory Impact Statement and regulations. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  9. World Health Organisation. (2019). Dependence Syndrome. Retrieved Febuary 28, 2019
  10. Penington Institute. (2018). Overdose Basics. Retrieved Februart 28, 2019
  11. Harm Reduction Coalition. (n.d.). Recognizing Opioid Overdose. Retrieved February 28, 2019
  12.  Jauncey, M. E., & Nielsen, S. (2017, August 1). Community use of naloxone for opioid overdose. Retrieved February 28, 2019
  13. Australian Pain Management Association. (2018). Medication. Retrieved February 28, 2019
  14. Australian Pain Management Association. (2018). Psychological Approaches to Pain Management. Retrieved February 28, 2019
  15. Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B. A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S., . . . Malione, M. A. (2017, April). Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Analysis of Behavioural Medicine, 51(2), 199-213.