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Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 - How Naloxone can save lives from a dual diagnosis perspective

The Greater Manchester Housing First pilot and the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust have worked together to support some of the most vulnerable people in the 10 boroughs and our Dual Diagnosis Practitioners use their unique expertise to provide support to those on the pilot.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, this blog is from a dual diagnosis perspective as many of our clients suffer from substance misuse and mental health. We wanted to take the opportunity to discuss how this impacts clients and staff and raise awareness.

In this blog, we discuss the benefits of a drug called Naloxone which is used to reverse the effects of opioids.

Opioids are a broad group of pain-relieving drugs that work by interacting with opioid receptors in your cells.

They include opiate drugs derived from opium poppy such as heroin, morphine, codeine and synthetic opioids like methadone and Oxycodone.

At lower doses, opioids may make a person feel sleepy, relaxed or euphoric. At higher doses, more and more opiate molecules attach to the receptors – breathing is slowed down so much that breathing stops which can lead to death through respiratory depression.

This is why the use of a drug such as Naloxone is so vital. Naloxone can reverse the effects of opioids, such as heroin, methadone, opium, codeine, morphine and buprenorphine.

Naloxone can even save someone’s life if it's used quickly after they’ve overdosed on opioids.

Medical professionals have been using naloxone in emergencies for many years. Naloxone is available in ampoules, pre-filled syringe and nasal spray.

Naloxone works within 2-5 minutes and the effects will last for between 20-40 minutes, but after that, they will wear off and the person will begin overdosing again. It’s important that the person still gets medical help during this time.

Naloxone is only effective for opioid overdoses and won’t work with any other non-opioid drugs. You should never use it as a safety net to take extra risks

In 2015 the law changed to permit drug services to supply Naloxone without a prescription for use in an emergency overdose situation.

The use of this drug is used for only the instances outlined in this blog but it is a tool that is helping us to support those with substance abuse and mental health issues where appropriate on the pilot and help them get their lives back on track.

Together, we are making a difference.

Point of Reference

Widening the availability of Naloxone (2019) www.GOV.UK/government/publications

Take-home Naloxone for opioid overdose in people who use drugs (updated July 2017) Public Health England, London .

An open letter from Professor John Strang, Chair of the Clinical Guidelines update working group (2015) Naloxone- Preliminary advice from the working group updating Drug Misuse and Dependence –UK Guidelines on Clinical Management


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