Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) June 24, 2009 -- The worst cases of drug addiction, such as with heroin and morphine, can lead to fatal overdose. Treatments for overdose varies depending on which the person is overdosed to. In the case of a heroin overdose, treatment usually involves an opioid antagonist such as naloxone (Narcan). As part of the many adult and adolescent drug treatment, especially for heroin and morphine overdose, naloxone is used to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system.
Point of Administration For faster effect, naloxone is most commonly injected intramuscularly. The drug generally acts within a minute, and its effects may last up to 45 minutes. It can also be administered via intravenous or subcutaneous injection. Other than injected intramuscularly, the use of a wedge device (nasal atomizer) attached to a syringe to create a mist delivering the drug to the nasal mucosa may also be utilized, although this solution is more likely utilized outside of a clinical facility.
Uses And Sub-Uses Naloxone has been distributed as part of emergency kits to heroin users, and this has been shown to reduce rates of fatal overdose. While it is still often used in emergency treatments for opioid overdose, its clinical use in the long-term treatment of opioid addiction is being increasingly superseded by naltrexone. Naltrexone is structurally similar but has a slightly increased affinity for κ-opioid receptors over naloxone. It can also be administered orally and has a longer duration of action.
Other than the use of the drug as an adult or adolescent drug treatment for opioid overdose, naloxone is also being used as a secondary chemical in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine Suboxone. Suboxone and Subutex were created as part of a detox program to help opiate addicted patients stop using opiates. Suboxone contains four parts buprenorphine and one part naloxone, while Subutex contains only buprenorphrine.
Naloxone as an adult and adolescent drug treatment was added to Suboxone in an effort to dissuade patients from grinding up the Suboxone tablet and using it as part of a combination of opiates that the user would inject into his or her body. Intravenously administered naloxone is supposed to block the effects of any opiates and cause the user to go into immediate withdrawal. However, buprenorphine has a higher affinity for the opiate receptors, and many users have reported that Suboxone is injectable without inducing withdrawal effects.