I am glad to hear that San Mateo County’s law enforcement officers are doing their part to combat the opioid epidemic by carrying naloxone, a lifesaving medication that reverses the effects of opioids (“Police turn to OD medication” in the Jan. 17 edition of the Daily Journal). I write to emphasize that paramedics, law enforcement officers and health care providers are not the only ones who are capable of giving naloxone — everyday citizens can too.
One of the best ways that we can prevent opioid-related fatalities is by expanding access to naloxone. California lawmakers have recently passed legislation doing just that: Starting Jan. 1, 2019, state law requires prescribers to offer a naloxone prescription to patients receiving high doses of opioids or other medications that increase risk of opioid toxicity.
For those who cannot acquire a prescription but would like to be prepared with naloxone, a 2018 law allows pharmacists to provide naloxone without a prescription. In each of these situations, the health care provider is required by law to inform recipients about recognizing signs of opioid overdose, responding to suspected opioid overdose, and preventing overdoses.
If you or a loved one regularly uses high doses of opioids, consider keeping naloxone handy in case of emergency. In the words of Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, “knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.”