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Naloxone now available without a prescription at Walgreens in Arizona

Naloxone has been hailed as a life-saving drug that combats the negative effects of an opioid overdose, during which a person may experience depressed (slowed) respiration, sedation and dangerously low blood pressure. A type of opioid antagonist, naloxone within a matter of minutes reverses the negative effects produced by opioid drugs, including heroin and prescription opioid medications.

Since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2014, naloxone has been available by prescription in the United States, allowing licensed doctors, emergency medical technicians or practitioners to dispense the drug and other approved opioid antagonists. Now more states are making the drug available to people who are at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose, their families and other organizations to reduce the number of deaths that result from opioid overdoses.

Last year, Arizona legislators granted authorization to people who are at risk of an opioid overdose as well as their families to purchase naloxone without a prescription. In accordance with state regulations for pharmacies in Arizona, as of Jan. 17, 240 Walgreens pharmacies now offer both the injection and nasal forms of the drug without a prescription.

A rising public health concern

Together, heroin and prescription opioids accounted for more than 33,000 drug overdose deaths in 2015, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drug overdose deaths are now the highest on record and continue to increase in the U.S. Each day, 91 Americans die from opioid overdoses and more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription drugs and taking them in ways other than directed.

Public health initiatives to combat opioid overdose deaths in Arizona

With rising concerns about increasing opioid overdoses and unintentional deaths across the country, public health initiatives have been implemented in an effort to save lives.

In Arizona, two legislative bills were signed by Gov. Doug Ducey last May in an effort to target the opioid epidemic and reduce the number of opioid-related drug overdoses in the state. The first bill, SB 1283, targeted “doctor shopping” by requiring physicians to use the Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring Program (CSPMP) database before prescribing a controlled substance to a patient.

The legislature of the state of Arizona passed the second bill, HB 2355, to authorize pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription to family members or persons at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose.

Along with other key efforts that Gov. Ducey has made to combat the opioid epidemic, expanding the availability of this life-saving medication may give people who overdose on opioid drugs a second chance at life. The governor expressed his hope that those who are fortunate enough to get a second chance will seek treatment to overcome their addiction to opioids.

Opioid addiction treatment at Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health is a leading provider of individualized and comprehensive behavioral health treatments for patients who have mental disorders – including eating disorders, substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions.

Our Arizona facility in Chandler specializes in the treatment of trauma for women. We offer complementary and evidence-based treatments including cognitive behavioral therapy, neurofeedback and other effective options to help people overcome opioid addiction.

To learn more about the behavioral health treatment programs offered at Sovereign Health of Arizona, please contact our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team.

About the author

Amanda Habermann is a senior staff writer for Sovereign Health. A graduate of California Lutheran University, she received her M.S. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in psychiatric rehabilitation. Her master’s thesis was written on “The effect of parental codependency on elementary school children’s social and emotional development,” and her research has been accepted for poster presentations at the Western Psychological Association. She brings to the team her extensive clinical background and skills in psychological testing and assessment, clinical diagnosis, research and treatment, and recovery techniques for patients with mental illness. She is a passionate researcher and enjoys staying up to date on the newest topics in the field. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com.

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