In an effort to reduce opioid overdose in Arkansas, Unity Health in Searcy is the first hospital in the state to launch NaloxHome, a new program that will provide at-risk overdose patients with at-home Naloxone. Funding for the program is provided by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration through Arkansas DHS.
Naloxone, commonly known by brand-name Narcan, will be provided to participating Arkansas hospitals and will be at discharge from the emergency room to patients or caregivers of patients who have experienced an overdose or who are at risk for an overdose.
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement is partnering with the state drug director and the Arkansas Department of Human Services to administer the program. In announcing its participation in this program, Unity Health– White County Medical Center is the first hospital to launch the NaloxHome program.
“We know that Naloxone saves lives,” said Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane. “Our goal is to get the drug into the homes of as many at-risk individuals as possible so fewer of our fellow Arkansans are lost to this epidemic.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths in the U.S. increased by nearly 30 percent in 2020, with more than 92,000 lives lost- an unprecedented jump from about 71,000 catastrophic deaths in 2019. Preliminary data from the CDC indicates that overdose deaths reached a new record high of more than 107,000 in 2021, a 15 percent increase from the previous year.
“This program is an important tool for our community in combating the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Roddy Lochala, Chief Medical Officer for Unity Health. “When we release someone from the Unity Health Emergency Department who has been treated for an overdose or is at risk for one, we have the ability to send the person home with a drug that can prevent a future overdose from being fatal. It is important to note that if Naloxone is administered at home, it is only the first step in being treated for an overdose. An emergency room should be the immediate next step.”
Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is increasing in the nation’s illicit drug supply, is a major driver of the overdose epidemic. Fentanyl is often mixed in other drugs or manufactured to look like medications like OxyContin, Xanax or Adderall. As a result, many are often unaware they are taking Fentanyl or the strength.
Research, such as a review of Massachusetts emergency department records, shows that patients who have been treated in an emergency room for an overdose are at high risk for another overdose after discharge.
For more information about NaloxHome, click here.