GREAT FALLS — Naloxone is an anti-opioid-overdose medicine, and it can be used to resuscitate someone who has overdosed on opioids.
Opioids are prescribed by doctors, usually for pain relief, and often produce morphine-like effects.
Amber Olson of Best Practice Medicine was in Great Falls Friday to train health care professionals on how to use Naloxone.
She went through a few scenarios and situations with the class, utilizing several different Naloxone delivery methods and devices in the solutions to those scenarios.
“Naloxone is an opioid antagonist medicine,” explained Olson, the Director of Special Projects for Best Practice. “Really what it means is that, if someone has been exposed to opioids, they bind to specific receptor sites, which unfortunately can impede breathing and slow down their pulse and such. What Naloxone does is to help reverse those effects by instead taking over those receptor sites and helping those people through that.”
Back in 2017, Montana legislators passed House Bill 333, which paved the way for these types of training centered on opioid use and overdoses to take place.
“It’s under House Bill 333 which is a Montana-based provision” Olson said. “We travel everywhere. We have trainers way out in Glasgow, we’ve been as far as Broadus and all the way to Kalispell so yeah, we’ve really touched every corner of the state of Montana.”
Olson and other workers at Best Practice work with hospitals and other health care organizations across the state to make sure that professionals know how to identify someone who has overdosed, and the appropriate way to respond if they do encounter someone in that situation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017 alone, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
Olson says that the answer to this nation-wide problem is like a big puzzle and limiting access to opioids and knowing how to prevent overdose-related deaths are two of the biggest pieces.
“The thing with Naloxone is it’s one small piece of a really big puzzle, unfortunately someone who has suffered from exposure to an opioid overdose, a lot of times what they need is kind of entry into this system of various social support and additional medical interventions,” she explained. “Naloxone is kind of the first step in a lot of...everything else that needs to happen in that. So not only is it a lifesaving intervention initially to help get someone breathing and that sort of thing again, but also hopefully it’s also the entryway to the other resources that that person needs.”
You can find more information about the Naloxone training at Best Practices here.