As we near the end of National Preparedness Month, we must think about the thousands of people who suffered an unintentional opioid overdose and were saved by naloxone. Someone in their lives – a family member, friend, emergency responder or employer – was prepared to give this opioid overdose reversal drug to someone in need.
Naloxone temporarily stops many of the life-threatening effects of overdoses from opioids, helping breathing to begin again and reversing the sedation and unconsciousness that are common when a person has overdosed. This allows time for emergency personnel to arrive and continue to treat and help the overdose victim. Naloxone only affects people who are experiencing an opioid overdose. It cannot hurt the victim – only help.
A life-saving dose of naloxone gives victims another chance at life – another chance at seeking treatment, finding recovery and leading a healthy life. Nearly 10% of Americans live in recovery from a substance use disorder – but you have to be alive to seek and live in recovery.
People take notice when a famous celebrity or athlete dies from an opioid overdose. We must not forget that this tragedy is happening to hundreds of families throughout the United States every single day. About two-thirds of people who have an opioid use disorder – the clinical name for opioid addiction – are in the workforce, so it is imperative for employers to play a role in prevention, treatment and recovery.
It can be hard to know where to start, so the National Safety Council has created a free Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit. This toolkit provides background information, guidance in developing a drug free workplace policy, posters, safety talks and more to help employers keep their workforce safe and healthy. The toolkit also includes information about the life-saving effects of naloxone, and can help an employer decide whether to add naloxone to the company’s first aid supplies.
Download the kit at nsc.org/opioidsatwork or encourage your employer to do so. Only by taking action can we turn the tide of this epidemic.