The New Mexico Department of Health reports that the distribution of Narcan is yielding promising results.
Often distributed through syringe exchange programs, Narcan works by causing the body to begin immediate withdrawal from heroin or prescription opioids, essentially reversing an overdose.
Brad Wharton, a drug epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health, says in 2010 and 2011, with Narcan, Santa Fe County saw 12 overdose reversals and 19 heroin deaths; Bernalillo County, 96 overdose reversals and 77 heroin deaths; while in Rio Arriba County:
“There were 166 overdose reversals due to the administration of Narcan and 12 heroin deaths,” says Wharton. “So without the presence of Narcan in Rio Arriba, the death rate could have been absolutely astronomical.”
Since 2007 prescription drug overdoses have outnumbered illicit drug deaths. Wharton says the Department of Health has begun pilot programs to co-prescribe Narcan with prescription painkillers to guard against overdoses.