How to stop an overdose: expert advice as dangerous opioid hits Houston

The City of Houston's recently seized barely a dash of the opioid Carfentanil. They say it's enough to kill 4-thousand people.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Art Acevedo announced his concern over the use of Crafentanil in other street drugs and new precautions among law enforcement officer -- such as the use of doubled gloves in handling narcotics. He also asked resident who knows an opioid user to be equip themselves with the anecdote: Naloxone.

In 2016, Texas became one of several states to allow pharmacies to use a standing order to administer and distribute Naloxone products, such as Narcan, over the counter without a prescription.

"This will work so wonderfully that they will wake up and usually it will make them sick because your body is used to narcotic effect, and when you take all of that away 100%," explains George Tompkins, Head Pharmacist at Piney Point Pharmacy. "This medicine is so wonderful, they suddenly get withdrawal symptoms."

While Naloxone is not new, it is unclear how many doses it would take to combat a Carfentanil overdose. Carfentanil has not been widely tested in humans but is believed to be 100,000 times stronger than morphine.

"It's used as a tranquilizer for large animals," explains Dr. Michael Weaver, an addiction specialist with the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. "Now that this stuff is hitting the streets, it's harder for Narcan to completely overcome that. You may not get an instant response like you would with heroin or oxycodone. You may have to give more than one dose."

Dr. Weaver reminds that Naloxone is only meant to buy time while you take the necessary next steps to save a life, such as, "calling 911, getting the paramedics to take them to the hospital, as well as recognizing that this is a disease that can be treated."

Naloxin cannot hurt someone who is not overdosing, says Dr. Weaver. He says there should be no fear in administering it, and no fear for anyone in calling for medical help.

"There are Good Samaritan laws that will protect people, even other users, in that situation from being arrested and prosecuted," says Dr. Weaver.

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