ENGL 148 Research Paper Overall Effectiveness of Overdose Reversing Drugs

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The effectiveness of overdose-reversing drugs

An overdose occurs when a person ingests a toxic amount of drugs or medicine, which can lead to a medical emergency. In some cases, overdoses can be fatal. Medical practitioners may contribute to drug overdoses through dosing errors, psychological factors, and pharmacological interactions. In the United States, the opioid crisis has resulted in a public health crisis, with a growing number of overdose deaths. In 2017, for instance, 47,600 people died from opioid overdoses, making accidental overdose more deadly than traffic accidents or gun deaths (Warner & Hedegaard, 2018).

Today, drug overdose deaths have reached an all-time high, devastating communities and families, with over 104,000 Americans dying of drug overdoses (Warner & Hedegaard, 2018). Health stakeholders and facilities have responded to the crisis by introducing overdose-reversing drugs and antidotes, such as Acetaminophen, Flumazenil, Naloxone, Diazepam, and Midazolam. Naloxone is the most effective overdose reversal drug, and it can reverse most overdoses, making it applicable to most patients. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize that the increasing availability and access to opioid drugs requires the use of overdose-reversing drugs to prevent overdose fatalities.

ENGL 148 Research Paper Overall Effectiveness of Overdose Reversing Drugs

The prescribing of opioids by medical practitioners, including nurses, has increased over time. The introduction of OxyContin in the 1990s to providers and pain clinics facilitated the adoption of overdose reversal drugs. This helped to provide a safer, healthier alternative for people who overdose on drugs prescribed by clinics and health facilities. However, the opioid crisis narrative by the CDC raised concerns about the use of overdose reversal drugs due to the rising number of overdose deaths resulting from prescribed opioids. The availability and production of these drugs have contributed to the increase in overdoses, resulting from addiction to pain relievers. Prolonged use, non-medical use, and misuse of opioids in treating pain have led to health problems and challenges such as dependence. To mitigate these risks, overdose-reversal drugs such as naloxone should be allowed as an antidote to opioids, reversing the effects of the opioid in time.

To prevent opioid addiction, various programs and interventions have been implemented to reduce access and prescription in many health facilities and providers. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), for instance, aim to track painkiller prescriptions and make data available in real-time. PDMPs are meant to limit the number of overdose deaths by regulating the dose and prescription. However, they have not effectively reduced the number of overdose deaths, which have mostly been linked to illicit opioids such as fentanyl and heroin. Although PDMPs monitor prescriptions, they do not curb access and contact with illegal drugs. To address this issue, governments, healthcare stakeholders, and pharmaceutical companies need to consider the importance of overdose-reversal drugs, given that most overdose cases result from the use of illicit drugs. Flumazenil, Naloxone, Diazepam, and Midazolam are some drugs that can help reverse opioid overdose as a preventive and rehabilitative measure. Using these drugs effectively saves many people from life-threatening conditions such as bleeding, respiratory depression, and bradycardia. Naloxone, in particular, is an effective overdose-reversal drug that does not affect someone with no opioids in their system. Statistical modeling indicates that if pharmaceutical companies and health stakeholders distribute high rates of naloxone among emergency personnel and laypeople, it could prevent 21% of opioid overdose deaths. The drug works by restoring the regular breathing system by blocking any effects caused by opioids, making it an effective opioid antagonist.

With the rise of illicit opioids and prescription drugs, overdose-reversing medications have become crucial in reducing and preventing overdose fatalities. The lack of consumer information and quality control in the underground markets where most people acquire illegal drugs poses a significant challenge. The ethical concerns surrounding the effectiveness of these drugs require moral decision-making since addiction and black markets are major issues.

ENGL 148 Research Paper Overall Effectiveness of Overdose Reversing Drugs

Opioid use has devastating effects on public health and safety, resulting in overwhelming psychological and physiological impacts and dependency levels. As a result, society tends to view individuals struggling with opioid addiction as fraught with misperceptions, emotions, and biases. Substance treatment poses dilemmas related to individual values, judgments, and beliefs.

To address the problem, overdose-reversal drugs must be made available in most clinics and health facilities to reduce emergency cases involving opioid prescriptions. The black market’s lack of ethical standards for the drugs they offer often leads to overdose deaths. Making the drugs legally available would promote health and safety in mainstream society.

Increased opioid use and prescription in health facilities have made overdose-reversal drugs necessary. Mental, psychological, and physiological issues are the leading causes of opioid overdose, and the number of individuals facing these issues is increasing daily. As a result, advocating for overdose-reversal drugs has become imperative. Efforts to increase the number of drugs in local and community organizations have ensured that practitioners can work on emergencies quickly and better.

The effectiveness of overdose-reversal drugs, such as naloxone, depends on FDA approval, research, and studies to implement novel formulations to save individuals struggling with drug addiction and overdose. The FDA has approved naloxone as safe, easy to administer, and abuse-free, making it effective in reducing fatalities. Other firms, such as the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), have played a vital role in developing and processing Narcan nasal spray and engaging in a partnership to conduct clinical trials on the effectiveness of overdose cases.

Studies and research have demonstrated the effectiveness of overdose-reversal drugs such as naloxone, both as an injectable and intranasal drug. Waiting for other formulations of the reversal drugs could be deadly and increase fatalities; therefore, using what is available is crucial. Legal stakeholders have reduced regulatory obstructions and restricted take-home naloxone prescriptions using previous data to prove the drug’s efficacy in emergency cases. The drug has been effective since health practitioners have not reported any fatalities before, making it a reliable and credible drug to use during an emergency overdose.

ENGL 148 Research Paper Overall Effectiveness of Overdose Reversing Drugs

During emergencies involving opioid abuse, naloxone has been the standard primary treatment for overdose reversal. However, according to Becker et al. (2020), while naloxone is safe for individuals not dependent on opioids, it can cause severe and life-threatening problems, such as myocardial infarction and acute respiratory distress syndrome, for those dependent on opioids. To reverse respiratory depression with limited symptoms, practitioners can administer buprenorphine, a fractional opioid receptor agonist, to a patient with opioid intoxication. However, repeated administration may reduce the need for the antidote over time.

Preventing and managing opioid overdose involves encouraging high-risk individuals, providers, and family members to seek education on evidence-based practices for using opioid analgesics. Individuals with substance use disorder should also seek treatment to reduce overdose and improve their overall health. Legal stakeholders should ensure medication prescribers use state PDMPs to monitor opioid prescriptions to avoid overdose and death. Prescribers can review their state PDMP data to determine if a patient is filling precise medicines or obtaining prescriptions that other individuals are receiving.

Recovery services are critical for individuals at risk of overdose, as treatment alone may not be enough for long-term recovery. Recovery support can include employment, peer support, and house services to impede an individual’s uptake and availability. Enhancing integration and coverage of support services is vital to promoting access to services and strengthening the workforce to encourage responsibility and equity.


To reduce substance use, health harms, and overdose deaths, states should implement Overdose Prevention Strategies (OPS) that include reducing restrictions to access effective treatment, cultural enhancements, and motivation to improve retention and engagement. Harm reduction is also an essential strategy to help individuals reduce the negative consequences of drug use, reduce stigma, and prevent substance use illnesses through safe prescription practices.


Becker, W. C., Frank, J. W., & Edens, E. L. (2020). Switching from high-dose, long-term opioids to buprenorphine: a case series. Annals of Internal Medicine, 173(1), 70-71. Bell, A., Bennett, A. S., Jones, T. S., Doe-Simkins, M., & Williams, L. D. (2018). Amount of naloxone used to reverse opioid overdoses outside of medical practice in a city with increasing illicitly manufactured fentanyl in the illicit drug supply—Substance Abuse. HSS. (2022). Together we can save lives. Overdose Prevention Strategy. Retrieved from

https://www.hhs.gov/overdose-prevention/ Larkin, H. D. (2022). New Guidance Aims to Improve Community Access to Naloxone. JAMA, 328(17), 1679-1679. Warner, M., & Hedegaard, H. (2018). Identifying opioid overdose deaths using vital statistics data. American journal of public health, 108(12), 1587-1589.