How Does Narcan Work?

How Does Narcan Work

The opioid overdose crises is just another problem we created for ourselves when we decided our body’s little voice- the pain response is an unnecessary sensation that should be ignored. 16 years down the line we’ve kind of shut off these rational neurons that were easy to negotiate with using mild analgesics and ended up awakening a far worse nightmare – the opioid receptors.

Amidst the strive for health, fun and crazy dieting habits on the verge, opioid overdose crisis claims the lives of more than 115 Americans per day. Overdose deaths now surpass car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths. More than 66% of drug overdose deaths are attributed to opioids use in the U.S. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2016 statistics,  the number of opioid overdose deaths including heroin and prescription opioids like oxycodone fentanyl, methadone and hydrocodone exhibited a 5 times rise compared to 1999 cases. Between 2000 to 2015 over 600, 000 people died from drug overdoses.

So let’s face the facts, we now know that opioid overdose apocalypse is here, what has Narcan got to do with it?

Narcan, another name for naloxone, is a non-selective competitive receptor antagonist that acts by reversing major life-threatening effects of opioid overdose like the Central nervous system and respiratory system depression within only a few minutes. Even though effects don’t last long, it gives one time to seek medical assistance. Most hospitals provide naloxone prescription to patients on opiate drugs for the treatment of chronic pain or following detox.

You’re probably asking yourself is Narcan safe? How much is it?

Narcan is approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and is among the WHO list of essential medicines. Narcan is considered one of the most effective and safe drugs for opioid overdose reversal. The drug is fairly affordable going at $0.50 to $5.39 per dose at wholesale price; a vial is sold at $25 in the United States while auto-injectors go for approximately $4,500, not a high price to pay to buy over 30 minutes to seek emergency medical care.

How does Narcan work?

An understanding of what opiates do to the body can help us better understand how Narcan works. Opiates are naturally formed by the body during exercising or strenuous activities in the form of endorphins. Endorphins or endogenous opiates bind to opiate receptors in the brain cells leading to an alteration in how neurons communicate resulting in pain relief, stress reduction, happiness and feelings of pleasure; sounds familiar?

Endorphins also control the rate of breathing through action on the respiratory center.

Since the body is always working to maintain homeostasis, endorphins production is only in regulated amounts to meet desired functions. Exogenous opiates like prescription or recreational opiates work in the same mechanisms as endorphins produced by the body. However, in overdose, the opioids flood the central nervous system activating many opioid receptors at once, this leads to amplified effects “Rush.”

Narcan is a pure antagonist with no partial agonistic effect or morphine-like properties like most opioid antagonists. Because of this property, Narcan only works if one has opioids in their system and elicits no pharmacological effects in people who have no opioids in their system. Chemically, Narcan is a congener of oxymorphone differing slightly in structure with a methyl group to alkyl group substitution on the nitrogen atom.

Though the mode of action of this drug is not fully understood, in vitro studies suggests that Narcan antagonizes Opioid actions by competing for the same binding sites on mu, kappa and delta opioid receptors in the brain. Narcan has the greatest affinity to mu receptor. The drug binds to this receptors displacing opioids from the binding sites and also occupies the binding sites locking them hence opioids binding is blocked. While it has an almost similar chemical structure as opiates, Nacarn bind the receptors but instead of activating the receptors to produce morphine-like effects it just sits at the binding site doing nothing.

Narcan is, therefore, an inhibitor of opioids since without binding the receptors opioids will not cause their usual effects. The overdose symptoms will immediately go away since the opioids are no longer sitting at the receptors. Free opioids that are not bound to receptors circulate in the blood and are eventually broken down in the liver and flushed out of the body through urine by the kidney.

While Narcan can reverse the symptoms of opioid overdose, this is a temporary relief. Narcan can be given as an injection or a nasal spray. The onset of action is approximately 5 minutes but Narcan has a half-life of only 30-80 minutes after which it is cleared from the body and opioids take over the receptors control again. Some people can relapse back to their initial state within minutes to hours hence seeking emergency medical care is essential in order to avoid adverse outcomes.

So next time you get an opioid prescription or even a malicious idea of “prescribing” it for yourself get naloxone/ Narcan. If you’re halfway through choosing your poison, you might as well get the antidote. Who knows it might just buy you 3 minutes to start the car or make a phone call for help.

References.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. (2011). Vital signs: overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers—United States, 1999–2008. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report60(43), 1487.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22048730

Curtin, S. C., Tejada-Vera, B., & Warner, M. (2017). Drug Overdose Deaths among Adolescents Aged 15-19 in the United States: 1999-2015. NCHS Data Brief. Number 282. National Center for Health Statistics.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED575708

Drolet, G., Dumont, É. C., Gosselin, I., Kinkead, R., Laforest, S., & Trottier, J. F. (2001). Role of endogenous opioid system in the regulation of the stress response. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry25(4), 729-741.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584601001610

https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-5846(01)00161-0

10 AA Sayings That Will Inspire You in Recovery

10 AA Sayings That Will Inspire You in Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that is, in part, famous due to its cliches. Idioms like “progress, not perfection” and “willingness is key” are not only peppered throughout AA clubhouses and church multi-purpose rooms, but are part of modern vernacular as well. However, they are much, much more than just a cultural representation of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. They are, to some, everything. These three or four word reminders help to encapsulate the program and put it in a form that is easily comprehended and digested by all. To stay sober, people need reminders of the bigger picture as well as feelings of commitment and loyalty to the program that keeps them sober. Some people new to the program might think that these statements seem simple, and they are, but the old-timers (and almost anyone in the program for that matter) will understand the beauty in their simplicity.

When people come into recovery, their lives are messy. They need a simple set of rules to live by, and AA offers that and more. Alcoholics Anonymous helps addicts and alcoholics pick themselves up by their bootstraps to repair their lives. These statements might not be the only thing at play when it comes to how an addict recovers, but they are certainly part of the formula. If you are new to the program, or just wanna refresh yourself on some awesome AA sayings, you will love our compilation of ten AA sayings that will help inspire you in recovery.

“Easy Does It”

This saying is definitely simple, but there is a beauty in its ease. It reminds all of us alcoholics and addicts to chill out, which is often what we need to hear. It reminds us of what is most important, rather than to be worked up about every menial task you have to perform in a day. Many addicts and alcoholics turned to drugs or the bottle because they could not cope with the daily stressors of each day. Part of recovery, a big part of it, is figuring out how to deal with the things that occur each day that would’ve triggered us in our past. Building healthy coping mechanisms is one of the most important parts of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as recovery in general. “Easy does it” embodies the central themes behind AA- stick to what’s most important, cut yourself a break, and above all, don’t use.

“We Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets”

It might seem a little intrusive to tell people about the most intimate parts of you and your life, but in AA, everyone understands, so social conventions are less of a big deal. You not only can, but should tell those you trust in AA the big things about you, your life and your story. This is especially true with your sponsor. Especially when you are reading your fourth step to them (the personal inventory you take as a part of completing the steps), you should be completely transparent. No one will judge you in AA. Whatever you have done, trust us, probably five people in your local AA meeting have done it too! If you do not disclose what is bothering you, past traumas or hurts, or current resentments, you will be less likely to get better. Relapse preys on the things that bother you that you do not disclose. Take a leap of faith, and share with your AA community today. The response will overwhelm you.

“First Things First”

“First things first” represents the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous is extremely solution-drive. Whatever happens, the Big Book, and the program itself, will encourage you to look at whatever you are face, figure out a logical step (with the help of prayer, meditation and your sponsor, of course) and proceed from there. Addicts and alcoholics have a tendency to not cope well with things or to blow things out of proportion, and this simple saying helps combat that negative behavior.

“One Day at a Time”

“One day at a time” is arguably the most popular saying of not only Alcoholics Anonymous but of Narcotics Anonymous as well. Both programs are based on the fact that alcoholics and addicts should not look at sobriety as a life sentence, but rather a thing to do each day. Many addicts and alcoholics come into the rooms after years of drinking and drugging, and a life without their crutch seems overwhelming. This is why it’s so important to keep sobriety one day at a time. It allows us to live in the present rather than start future-tripping about things we have no control over. If you keep telling yourself you can rethink sobriety tomorrow, and you say it every day, you’ll never take the drink. That’s a success in our book.

“Let Go and Let God”

However you feel God, the sentiment behind this quote is very meaningful and representative of AA. letting go and letting God embodies steps one through three of alcoholics anonymous- admitting your powerlessness, believing a higher power can restore you to sanity and choosing to turn your will over to this higher power. This is really the thesis of the whole program- we can’t recover alone, but we can with the help of God and the loving individuals in the rooms of AA.

 

Perhaps you’re still confused about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. That’s perfectly natural- there is so much more to the program than just clever sayings. If you are an addict or alcoholic in need of recovery, look no further than Recreate Life. Recreate Life utilizes Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve steps as well as renowned therapeutic approaches to combat the disease of addiction. Addiction is hard, but Recreate Life is dedicated to helping you and your loved ones beat it.

Alcohol Rehab Programs

“Foundation, Solution, Maintenance”

There is a solution

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.”  You hear this phrase in alcohol rehab programs often.  You also hear it in pop culture and everyday conversations too.  But depending on the context, this phrase can be a real problem.  Sometimes it’s helpful, but sometimes it’s just false.  Effective alcohol rehab programs make the distinction clear.


People do recover from alcoholism.  This is an empirical fact.  Alcohol rehab programs witness success stories and miracles every day.  These often involve people who have suffered for decades yet never drink again after treatment.   So if the phrase means permanent recovery is impossible, then it’s simply false.  

But if it’s said to bring home the fact that true recovery takes work, then it’s probably true for most alcoholics.  Some folks leave alcohol rehab programs and never drink again without a whole lot of maintenance.  But most alcoholics have to keep changing to maintain relief.  

How Alcohol Rehab Programs Work

Treatment works, good treatment at least.  Alcohol rehab programs help drinkers identify their distorted thinking and educate them on their disease.  They also begin to unmake the traumas that cause many alcoholics to drink destructively.  In this way, alcohol rehab programs provide some modicum of “immediate” relief.  

But effective treatment doesn’t stop here.  It continues to work even after the alcoholic achieves some stability.  Alcohol rehab programs continue to work by fine tuning their solution.  They accomplish this with cognitive behavioral therapies and peer support.  The client should leave treatment feeling stable and equipped with a foundation for long term relief.

But perhaps the most important aspect of an alcohol rehab program is what they provide in terms of aftercare.  The good ones make sure that clients are truly connected to the recovery process when they leave.  They accomplish this by setting up continued therapy sessions and connecting them to support groups.  These support groups are often 12 step programs, but other options are available as well.  

With this three pronged approach – foundation, solution, maintenance – alcohol florida rehab programs do more than save lives.  They transform them and make them worth living.