US surgeon general on naloxone: Anyone can access it, anyone ‘can be a hero'

FLORENCE, Ky. -- The US surgeon general emphasized anyone can access and administer naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, less than a week after issuing an advisory urging people to carry the medication. 

Dr. Jerome Adams’ visit to Northern Kentucky Monday is his first stop on a regional visit to discuss the advisory. 

"We want every community member to see who's at risk for an overdose, to recognize signs and symptoms of overdose,” Adams said. “We want you to know … how to administer naloxone. It’s extremely safe to use and available by standing order. Any individual can access naloxone, any individual can be a hero and save a life."

Naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, blocks opioid receptors in the brain, which restores breathing in the person who has overdosed. There are no adverse effects for using naloxone, even if a person didn’t overdose on opioids. 

Adams emphasized Thursday that "knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life." To make his point, Adams relied on a rarely used tool: the surgeon general's advisory. The last such advisory was issued more than a decade ago and focused on drinking during pregnancy.

Most first responders carry the life-saving drug, but not all politicians approve of its use. 

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said in July he has no intention of having his deputies use Narcan to help people who have overdosed.

"We're not winning this battle and Narcan is not the answer," Jones told WCPO in July. 

Adams’ visit to Northern Kentucky included a naloxone demonstration, as well as a tour of the Kentucky Department of Public Health’s Mobile Pharmacy Harm Reduction Unit, which trains Kentuckians how to identify and treat overdoses. 

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