DENVER — State leaders are encouraging Coloradans to obtain naloxone in an effort to fight the opioid overdoses which claimed 543 lives in Colorado last year, according to the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse and Prevention.

When administered at the moment of an opioid overdose, naloxone blocks opioid receptors in the body, effectively reversing the impact of the overdose and saving the person’s life – thereby allowing time to call 911 to receive medical assistance.

In 2018, 543 people died from overdoses that involved prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, or illegally obtained opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, according to the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse and Prevention.

Many of those deaths could have been prevented by administering naloxone, an easy-to-use medication available without a prescription to anyone at most pharmacies across the state, the group said. Naloxone has been used to reverse more than 1,122 opioid overdoses in Colorado since mid-2017.

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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recommended that any person exposed to opioids either through prescriptions, illicit drug use or via a friend or loved one using the drugs should know how to use naloxone and keep it within reach.

“We’re following the Surgeon General’s lead by encouraging Coloradans to understand how important it is to know what naloxone is, how to use it, how to purchase it, and to keep it in your home, car or on your person so it’s available when needed,” said Robert Valuck, PhD, RPh, executive director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and a professor at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

“The bottom line is: If you have opioids in your home, you should also have naloxone. If someone you know or love is taking opioids, be sure to tell them about naloxone.”

> Click/tap here for more information about naloxone, including a video showing how to use it.

Throughout the summer and fall, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention is running paid advertisements throughout Colorado with the “Bring Naloxone Home” message, encouraging residents to visit their pharmacy, ask about naloxone and purchase it.

Gov. Jared Polis (D) also declared August to be Colorado Naloxone Awareness Month. His proclamation recognizes that “prescription opioid misuse and abuse is a public health crisis in Colorado, with long-term health consequences, including addiction, overdose, and death, and has a profound impact on Colorado families and communities.”

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