August 31st is Overdose Awareness Day, and this year the State of Michigan is addressing the opioid epidemic with free naloxone at participating pharmacies.
The State of Michigan had over 2,686 overdose deaths in 2017. Opioid overdose, in many cases, is a preventable cause of death. One direct way to combat overdose is to increase access to the life-saving opioid overdose antidote naloxone, but barriers still stand in the way of this life-saving opioid overdose prevention tool. This year we applaud the state of Michigan for organizing a state-wide Free Naloxone Day on August 31. Naloxone will be available at no cost to anyone over 14 (you can receive it anonymously and aren’t required to give any personal information), at participating pharmacies around the state.
Who in Michigan should carry naloxone?
The U.S. Surgeon General’s office, in their advisory on naloxone and the overdose epidemic, reminded us that we all have an important part to play in this public health crisis.
They recommend people who meet the following criteria carry naloxone as they’re at elevated risk for opioid overdose:
Misusing prescription opioids (like oxycodone) or using heroin or illicit synthetic opioids (like fentanyl or carfentanil).
Having an opioid use disorder, especially those completing opioid detoxification or being discharged from treatment that does not include ongoing use of methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone.
Being recently discharged from emergency medical care following an opioid overdose.
Being recently released from incarceration with a history of opioid misuse or opioid use disorder.
They also note that patients taking opioids as prescribed for long-term management of chronic pain, especially in combination with other sedating medication, are at elevated risk of an overdose.
If you don’t know anyone struggling with opioid overdose, keeping naloxone around and being educated on how to use it in an overdose can’t hurt anyone. Think of it like CPR training — a prevention strategy to help someone in a health emergency. Especially in Michigan, which has higher opioid overdose rates than the national average, we can all take steps to turn the tide of this epidemic.
Check with your local pharmacy, and see if they’ll be participating in Michigan’s Free Naloxone and Overdose Awareness Program on August 31st.