Opioid crisis sees rise in vending machines offering lifesaving drug

Opioid crisis sees rise in vending machines offering lifesaving drug

Vending machines that dispense lifesaving overdose drug, naloxone, are on the rise across the country in the wake of the national opioid crisis.

In the past year alone, there have been nearly 110,000 deaths in the US attributed to opioids, with many being caused by fentanyl: a synthetic opioid up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Naloxone spray, also known by the brand name NARCAN®, can reverse the effects of opioid overdose in a matter of minutes and is often used by first responders.

Now, vending machines containing the ‘miracle drug’ are being installed across the country at locations ranging from jails and college campuses to fire stations, libraries and even churches.

In rural counties, where the wait for police or paramedics can be longer than the national average of 10 minutes, having naloxone within easy reach can often mean the difference between life and death for a person who is overdosing.

A national epidemic

America’s opioid crisis has been labelled a ‘national epidemic’ by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claiming more than 700,000 lives since it began in 1999.

The most recent surge in overdose-related deaths, driven by fentanyl, has led to a series of national campaigns by the CDC to prevent drug overdoses, with naloxone playing a key part.

The CDC is also offering guidance to help people recognize the signs of opioid overdose, and to encourage intervention which could save a life.

Signs of opioid overdose can include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • Skin discoloration (especially in lips and nails)
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Constricted or small ‘pinpoint’ pupils

Fentanyl is now known to be a major contributor to both fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the US.

While it can be prescribed legally by doctors to treat severe pain in those living with advanced-stage cancer, or for patients who have had recent surgery, it is also illicitly manufactured and sold illegally in liquid and powder form.

Unscrupulous manufacturers and street dealers will also mix fentanyl with other illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, or add it to pills that resemble other prescription opioids.

This has significantly increased the risk and likelihood of both fatal and non-fatal overdoses among recreational drug users.

What are opioids?

Opioids are chemical compounds that are commonly manufactured in a lab or ‘synthesized’. Fentanyl and methadone are both examples of opioids.

Although opioids are often confused with opiates, the two are different. The fundamental difference being that opiates are natural compounds, extracted or refined from plant matter (e.g. poppy sap and fibres).

How opiates and opioids are used depends on the drug, but they can be injected, smoked, or ingested in tablet, capsule or syrup form.

The physical side effects of opiates and opioids can vary depending on how the drug is used and how often it is used, along with the metabolism and weight of the person.

Common side effects can include dilated pupils, nausea, hallucinations, raised body temperature, urinary retention, drowsiness, constricted pupils, slow or ineffective breathing and slower heart rate.

When injected, adverse effects include vein damage, infections, and blood clots.

A person who injects opiates or opioids is also at an increased risk of overdosing or contracting life-altering infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. This risk is even greater among users who share needles.

Learn more about opiates and opioids

What is the legal status of opiates/opioids in the US?

Different opiates and opioids are classified differently under federal law, depending on their potency, potential for abuse and dependency, and whether they are legal when prescribed by a physician.

Most opiates/opioids are classed as schedule II, III, IV or V narcotics under the Controlled Substances Act.

Here are some examples of opiate/opioid classification:

  • Heroin is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, due to its high potential for abuse
  • Fentanyl, opium, and methadone are Schedule II narcotics under the Controlled Substances Act.

Methadone can be used under supervision by a physician, to aid recovery from heroin addiction

  • Codeine is a Schedule III narcotic, as it is regarded as having low to moderate potential for causing harm and dependency

More information about the legal status of different drugs can be found at www.dea.gov.

Where can I buy a peace of mind drug test?

Our home drug tests have been designed to give you peace of mind or enable you to seek support for a loved one who is struggling with substance misuse, including opiate/opioid misuse.

Simply choose from one of the following options:

  • Home Urine Drug Test Kit (pack of 3 – $34.95)– this easy-to-use home drug testing kit can detect drugs and their metabolites in a urine sample. The self-contained screening kit includes built-in test strips, allowing you to read the results in just 5 minutes
  • Drug and Alcohol Nail Test (from $99)– this test can detect drug use for a period of up to 12 months prior to samples being collected, with only a sample of fingernail clippings or toenail clippings required. Simply follow the instructions included in your test kit to collect your nail clipping samples and return them to our accredited laboratory for testing

Please be aware that our home drug testing kits are for peace of mind only. These tests can give you the answers you need, but the results cannot be used in legal proceedings or in court.

For more information, email our friendly and discreet Customer Services team at info@alphabiolabsusa.com.

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