By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A rare advisory from the United States Surgeon General, pushing more people to have naloxone on hand and to learn how to use it.  The medicine reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

WCCO took a look at the four things to know about naloxone.

The numbers are alarming, the country’s top doctor says every day 115 people die in this country from an opioid overdose, one person every 12 minutes.

It’s why he says it’s time we all arm ourselves with the medicine that can save lives.

A heroin overdose took her son Luke’s life two years ago. Colleen Ronnei will never know if naloxone could have changed things.

“It’s such a simple thing. It’s so easy to have,” Ronnei said.

She’s hopeful this advisory will for other families.

“It could have been different if we had had it maybe,” she added.

Randy Anderson is the overdose prevention manager for the Steve Rummler Hope Network.

We took some common questions to the nonprofit working to combat opioid addiction.

How does it work?

“In your brain you have opioid receptors. When you use opioids those receptors are flooded, which causes respiratory arrest, which causes the overdose.  The naloxone goes in there and it’s so powerful that it knocks the opioid off the receptor and it blocks it,” Anderson said.

How do you use it?

“You hold your thumb on, pull the fluid down so the tip of the needle’s in the fluid. Let go of your thumb and it sucks all of that right into the needle. And then you’d go right into a large muscle,” Anderson said.

The Steve Rummler Hope Network reminds people to call 911 first and to give two CPR breaths before using the medicine.  Wait two minutes and if nothing happens, start the cycle again.

How long does it last?

“Depending on the body, body weight, how old you are, it metabolizes usually between 30 and 90 minutes,” Anderson said.

It’s why an overdose patient must still go to the hospital.

Where do you get it?

“The easiest way is to go to your pharmacy. Walgreens has guaranteed us they would carry the nasal version at all 8,000 locations in the United States,” Anderson said.

A few answers to a new conversation surrounding an ongoing crisis.

“I think this is another way that we can do better. We can do more,” Colleen Ronnei said.

Naloxone in the nasal spray form costs about $135 for two doses at the pharmacy.  The vial version about $20 to $40 per vial. Insurance will usually cover some of the cost. The Steve Rummler Hope Network gives away the medicine at its trainings.

Funding is a huge piece of this.  Advocates would like to see this more readily available and at no cost eventually.


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