Combating Feelings of Inadequacy

We have all been there before, and have had the feeling. No matter how untrue it is, we have all at some point felt like we weren’t good enough. Maybe you have a little voice inside your head saying, “You aren’t smart enough to do this job”, or “you are a bad parent”, or even “that outfit doesn’t look good on you.”  Feelings of inadequacy are common among adults and adolescents.  Your inner voice and how you talk to yourself has an effect on how much you accomplish, your happiness, and your quality of life.  Positive breeds positive, negative breeds negative. Making sure your inner voice is working for you during those moments of feelings of insecurity and inadequacy is how you can maintain a positive attitude. Here are some steps for helping combat feelings of inadequacy.

First, acknowledge the feeling, which is sometimes difficult to do.  As humans, we do not like to see ourselves as less than: less than others, less than our best, less than how we want others to see us.  Drawing attention to the feeling of inadequecy or even speaking it aloud can be painful.  However, this step is vital. When you speak the feeling aloud or write it down, you can begin see the feeling for what it is — a feeling. You can begin to acknowledge that it is only a feeling, not a definition of who you are. 

To build upon acknowledging the feeling, think about where the feeling comes from. Is it your own voice or did it come from someone else?  We all go through seasons of struggle and pain, and the take away from this is that your reaction to others’ words and actions, the media, and social media is what you make of it. Understanding the origin of your feelings of inadequacy can help you put space between what you are feeling and who you are as a person. 

Further, you do not portray yourself as your insecurities to others. You experience your feelings, but they do not define who you are.  Yes, sometimes feelings are very powerful;  you can’t just snap your fingers and not feel insecure.  However, you can learn to focus on defining yourself by your actions, aspirations, and deeds, not necessarily how you think you stack up or think others perceive you. 

If your friend shared with you her feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, what would you do?  Would you tell your friend, “You’re right, Amy, you are a terrible mom and you will never be as good a mom as me”? You would say, “Parenting is tough and we all make mistakes sometimes, but the important thing is that you realize you made a mistake and you are trying to do better”. You would reassure your friend that she is a good mom and she is trying to learn from it and do better in the future.    If you can encourage your friends, why can’t you encourage yourself? You deserve to be as good a friend to yourself as to anyone else.

Flipping the voice to affirm growth and reassure yourself that your feelings of inadequacy do not define you can open the door to learn from these feelings. Our insecurities give us an opportunity to grow.  The process isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but changing your mindset and making your inner voice work for you in positive ways will eventually have a more positive impact on how you view and react to events in your life.

Mental Health Services are a Necessity

If there is one thing that COVID-19 has not changed, it is the necessity of mental health resources and services However, with the immeasurable that anxiety and stress that the virus has caused on our society, especially on those frontline workers, the need will surely be greater in the aftermath.

We have yet to see the full impact that COVID-19 is going to make on individuals and families, and it could set off a chain reaction of struggles deeper than we can fully grasp. With that being said, funding for mental health must be a priority. Our communities are going to need to help, and if the services are not available due to lack of funding, matters are likely to get worse.

Below is an excerpt from an article written by Courtney Lenora that appeared in Medium last month, titled “Mental Health Workers: The Other First Responders in this Pandemic.” It outlines the importance of our mental health workers, the need for more mental health resources, and just how much strain COVID-19 is causing.

“I support people who have a very limited understanding of what this pandemic means. For them, it means a lot of changes to regular routine, a lack of contact with the outside world, and a lot of waiting and boredom.  

Without structure and purpose, their risk of self-destructive behaviour increases. It cannot simply be explained to them what might happen if there is an outbreak in the home. This could create further anxiety, paranoia, and undue stress. 

To the best of our ability, my front-line team tries to keep routine in the home, offer alternative activities, and practice a lot of supportive counselling and patience. Most importantly, we try to keep individuals safe and healthy, not only from the virus, but from mental health crisis. 

This means that we as essential workers need to keep ourselves safe and healthy. We must be so careful not to come in contact with the virus and bring it to work. Conversely, we are trying not to bring the virus home to our loved ones should there be an outbreak at work.

Just as important, we must look after ourselves mentally, so that we can continue to work effectively for those who need us. This is easier said than done, given the circumstances.

We have limits, and a lot of us will be prone to burn out the longer this situation continues to negatively impact us both personally and professionally.

We are human, not super heroes.

I think I speak for most mental health professionals during this time. I have helpers and healers in my own life who I know are struggling personally in this pandemic. One even said she is cutting back on work to look after herself and her family.

I know front-line workers who are thinking about a leave of absence or extended holiday at some point, knowing that they cannot sustain working under stressful conditions long-term without hitting “reset”. Some have even opted for early retirement to protect their health and their loves ones. Meanwhile, many of us are currently working overtime, and this field was facing a staffing crisis even prior to the pandemic.

We are only in the beginning stages of this pandemic, and essential care workers are already walking away.

Front-line staff walked out of a group home in Markham, Ontario last week, leaving residents unattended. While I cannot imagine doing this, there could be a number of reasons why this happened, and I would guess that these people did not feel safe or protected.

If mental health workers all burnout, what replaces us? When mental health crisis reaches its peak in response to the pandemic and overloads mental health services, what happens then?

As Dr. Andrew L. Smith and Dr. Neil de Laplante note, the mental health system is already “chronically under-resourced”, and vulnerable persons face the greatest consequences if the system breaks-down in response the pandemic crisis.

Funding is necessary to keep mental health resources in place or develop new services as the effects of the pandemic evolve. Additional funding is required to implement health and safety measures to protect people living and working in group-homes, institutions, and long-term care facilities. But money is not the only important resource.

In addition to funding, mental health workers need safeguarding and protection. The most important resource in the mental health system is its workers. Without anyone available to provide the service, funding loses its purpose.

Eventually, COVID-19 will no longer be a significant health threat. However, we can expect a long-term impact on society. Loved ones will be lost. People will struggle to recover financially. Some might be traumatized. Vulnerable persons could face significant abuse in isolated situations. Addictions could surge. Not everyone will come out of this pandemic being able to continue on their previous life. 

Mental health workers are not miracle workers, but they are necessary when people are in crisis, which will be an inevitable result of the current situation.”

 

SMA Healthcare Awarded CCBHC Grant

SMA Healthcare has been awarded a two year $4 Million grant by SMAHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to establish a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) in Daytona Beach.

CCBHCs are facilities specifically designed to provide a community with an all-inclusive range of substance use and mental health disorder services, especially for individuals who have the most complex needs. CCBHCs are responsible for directly providing (or contracting with partner organizations to provide) nine types of services, with an emphasis on the provision of 24-hour crisis care, utilization of evidence-based practices, care coordination and integration with physical health care. 

CCBHCs provide a comprehensive collection of services needed to create access, stabilize people in crisis and provide the necessary treatment for those with the most serious, complex mental illnesses and substance use disorders. CCBHCs integrate additional services to ensure an approach to health care that emphasizes recovery, wellness, trauma- informed care and physical-behavioral health integration. Comprehensive care includes, but is not limited to, the following criteria:

• 24/7/365 crisis services to help people stabilize in the most clinically appropriate, least restrictive, least traumatizing and most cost-effective settings.

• Immediate screening and risk assessment for mental health, addictions and basic primary care needs for those with behavioral health disorders.

• Easy access to care with criteria to assure a reduced wait time so those who need services can receive them when they need them, regardless of ability to pay or location of residence.

• Tailored care for active duty military and veterans to ensure they receive the unique health support essential to their treatment.

SMA Healthcare’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic will increase access to and improve the quality of community mental health and substance use disorder treatment to over 1,100 individuals over the two year period of the grant. 

SMA HEALTHCARE – Transforming Lives Through Hope and Healing

Motivation: Striving to Be Your Best

Motivation is defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” That begs the question: how can one motivate oneself to strive to be the best they can be while at work? That all depends and changes based on the environment. However, it is sometimes done simply by surrounding yourself with reminders that can keep you focused. It could be posters, pictures, or small mementos to push you to give your all in the work that you do.

For instance, you can surround yourself with things that remind you of your passions in life, what you look forward to when you are not working.  It could be family, a hobby, traveling, or faith.  It is important to remember the dedication and commitment to work as only a piece of the pie and balance it with passions outside of work. If you travel for work – or don’t work in an office — having a something like that in your vehicle can push you even further.

Another way is to find a way to remember your real-life idols, mentors, friends, co-workers, etc. that have passed on and focus on what they left behind for you.  Honoring those individuals that shaped your career path or choices through tokens, pictures, or symbols will provide continual positive reminders.   

Sometimes it is a good quote (or two) that can help you take that extra step during the work day. Here are just a couple of many “motivational quotes” that can make a difference:

  • “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
  • “Be the light that others can come to with their ideas, visions, and dreams. Never doubt that blending your talents with those of others can change the world.” 

In addition to that, one way to motivate one’s self is set goals or make a list and put it in a place you always see. As you begin to cross things off that list, the small sense of accomplishment can push you to work harder and accomplish even more!

Your work environment helps others understand who you are and what is important to you.  It also reminds you every day of how to be the best person you can be.  What does your work environment communicate to others?  How can you design it to maximize your motivations to be the best person you can be?  Ask yourself these questions and work towards a better you.

Addiction: A Chronic Brain Disease

 

 

Since 2011, there has been a growing public understanding and acceptance of addiction as a chronic brain disease and the possibility of remission and recovery has increased. So, what exactly is addiction? According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):

“[Addiction is] a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.  People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.

Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic illnesses.”

Furthermore, ASAM goes on to say, “.”

Drug addiction can be compared to other medical illnesses such as Atherosclerotic Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes. Like these illnesses, drug addiction:

  • Is not curable.
  • Must have certain criteria to make the diagnosis.
  • Is marked by a variable course of illness
  • May result in other serious health complications.
  • Requires the patient to adhere to a rigorous treatment routine.
  • Has a prognosis which may result in death if left untreated.

In terms of science and research, more strides are being made in the field of addiction more rapidly today than at any time in history.  Most of that is due to the use of Functional Magnetic Imaging — a form of MRI that relies on the fact that the activity of neurons (nerve cells) in a given region of the brain is proportional to the blood flow in that region of the brain. 

Because of that one fact, and the genius of many researchers, we are able to color code blood flow in accordance with neuronal activity and look at areas of the brain both microscopically and at “long range.” This allows us to gain new knowledge of structures within the limbic system of the brain where most addiction takes place.

In terms of research, there are a number of other areas where science is helping to identify causes of addiction and ways to make treatment more accurate and appropriate.

We know now that epigenetics, as well as genetics, plays a major role in drug addiction. Epigenetics is the study of Chromatin, the structures surrounding the DNA, being altered and resulting in an increased risk of addiction based on environmental factors such as childhood trauma. This risk is able to skip generations and still be transmitted.

Another term that is relatively new in the field of addiction, but is very important, is Neuroplasticity. We know through repetition of a given activity — i.e. opioid addiction and its attendant behavior — and a desire to group together, neurons are able to combine, showing plasticity, and to form new pathways. 

These pathways may be positive in nature – i.e. learning to play the piano, being a gifted hitter in baseball — or negative like drug addiction. Depending in part on the length and strength of the addiction, therapy or regular self-help group attendance teaches the opposite of the established addictive neuroplastic pathway, and weakens the addiction pathway.

Finally, stress and physical pain are two very important terms that are tied to drug addiction, its pathway in the brain, and its understanding as a disease.  With drug addiction, there can be no doubt we are dealing with a brain disease, despite the stigma that is still so prevalent in our community and country.

Taking Care to Those In Need

A national survey indicated that as many as one in six U.S. children (between the ages of 6 and 17) experiences a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)1.

            The CDC reports:

  • 4% of children aged 2-17 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis.2
  • 4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem.3
  • 1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.3
  • 2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression.3

Further analysis of the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health data published by JAMA Pediatrics, also found that 49.4% of children or adolescents with these disorders did not receive counseling or treatment provided by a mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker1.

The Florida Council for Behavioral Healthcare reports a dramatic increase in the number of youth referred for involuntary commitment under the Baker Act over the past 10 years. There’s also been an alarming rise in youth suicides and suicide attempts, with School District personnel across Florida reported unprecedented levels of depression, severe anxiety, and self-harm among their students. These findings ascertain that it is now more than ever, vital that the appropriate resources are available to Florida’s youth who may be experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

Providing current treatment methods remains a priority at SMA Healthcare which is evidenced in the implementation of the Mobile Response Team (MRT). Mobile Response Teams (MRT) provide families, caregivers, and teachers a “no wrong door” option when a child or adolescent is experiencing a behavioral health crisis by providing on-demand crisis intervention services in any setting, including schools, homes, and emergency departments – even through telehealth services. Mobile response services are available 365 days per year, 24 hours per day, by a team of professionals and paraprofessionals trained in crisis intervention. Services and support are provided within a timely manner as teams also work with individuals and their families to identify and implement strategies for effectively dealing with potential future crises.

In a collective community effort, MRT providers collaborate with school superintendents and law enforcements, as well as health and human service related providers, emergency responders, peer organizations, family advocacy groups, and emergency dispatchers (i.e., 211 and 911). MRTs are staffed with access to psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners able to performance assessments and evaluations, develop safety plans, and facilitate stabilization services, supportive crisis counseling, and linkage to appropriate services.

If you or somebody you know needs help, please contact our 24/7 crisis hotline at 800-539-4228.

 

1 Whitney DG, Peterson MD. US National and State-Level Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders and Disparities of Mental Health Care Use in Children. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(4):389–391. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5399

2 Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Ghandour RM, Holbrook JR, Blumberg SJ.  Prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis and associated treatment among U.S. children and adolescents, 2016.  Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Published online before print January 24, 2018.

3 Ghandour RM, Sherman LJ, Vladutiu CJ, Ali MM, Lynch SE, Bitsko RH, Blumberg SJ. Prevalence and treatment of depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in U.S. children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2018. Published online before print  October 12, 2018

Worried Mind – A Quick Guide for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal part of the human experience.  It’s a defense mechanism designed to keep us alive.  We worry about things that may harm us, and that keeps us alive.  Whether it’s a sabre tooth tiger, your boss, or tax day, we all worry about things and that keeps us alert and prepared to handle various situations.  However, for some people, the anxiety response is triggered too easily, too frequently, and too intensely. 

This can happen as a result of various factors including genetics, past trauma, or use of substances.  About 18.1% of the adult population in the U.S. could be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in any given year.  The symptoms include more than just excessive worry, but can manifest themselves as various physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, trembling, increased heart rate, unexplained aches and pains, fast breathing, nausea, trouble sleeping, and change in daily routines such as eating patterns.  Because this type of disorder is so common, it’s important to understand various anxiety disorders.  Here are some common types of anxiety disorders. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder – This disorder is characterized by unusually intense feelings of worry and anxiety that are persistent and ongoing.  The source of the anxiety is sometimes difficult for the person to identify.  The symptoms must be present most days for 6 months or more to warrant this diagnosis.

Phobias – Phobias are very common.  The person has a fear of a specific thing (eg. Spiders, snakes) or situation (eg. heights, closed spaces).  The degree to which the phobia affects someone’s life depends on the object of their phobia and its intensity.

Social Anxiety – The person’s anxiety is increased in social situations.  They may feel very insecure, and have a fear of humiliation or embarrassment. 

Panic Disorder – A person with a panic disorder experiences recurring panic attacks.  Panic attacks are periods of extreme anxiety, manifesting itself in intense physical symptoms and occurring suddenly, without reasonable external stimuli to warrant such an episode.  Panic attacks can be so intense that they look like a heart attack or other life threatening situation, although a panic attack itself is not life-threatening.  Just because someone experiences one panic attack does not mean they have a panic disorder. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, occurs as the result of a traumatic event.  Traumatic events could be any situation that produces excessive terror or distress (eg. Abuse, assault, combat, natural disasters, or loss of a loved one).  The person may re-live the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories.  They may also avoid situations in which triggers for their trauma may occur (for example, loud noises).  Hypervigilance and negative thinking patterns are also common.

During stressful times, we are most likely to experience some anxiety. But, in most instances, those feelings will pass. However, if you or a loved one are experiencing continued symptoms of anxiety, please consult your physician and/or mental health professional – SMA Healthcare is here for you 24/7 at 800-539-4228.  If symptoms include thoughts of suicide, please consider utilizing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. 

 

References

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

Mental Health First Aid Participant Manual

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

COVID-19 and Mental Health

The unimaginable has happened — a pandemic like no other has hit the United States and the world like a ton of bricks.  In the minds of most, and rightfully so, is the health and safety of our loved ones, our community, our nation, and ourselves.  We must heed the warnings and directions from medical experts on how to combat COVID-19.  Throughout this process, and even afterward, there will be a need to take care of our mental health.    

It is predicted that, like the opioid epidemic, the majority of us will know at least someone who has contracted the disease or may even know someone who has died from COVID-19.  The response to this disease is increasing levels of anxiety for all, even for those who did not have anxiety issues prior to the pandemic.  It has already been reported that in the most affected area of China there has been a dramatic increase in Agoraphobia, the fear of going outside, keeping people trapped in their homes. 

Prior to COVID-19, anxiety was one of the most common diagnosable mental health conditions within the United States. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates 40 million adults experience anxiety related disorders. Common anxiety related symptoms include problems sleeping, difficulty thinking or focusing on topics, excessive and uncontrolled worrying, sweating, trembling, restlessness, increased heart rate, stomach problems, tension, nervousness, hyperventilation, and a sense of impending doom, danger or panic.  With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, the constant news coverage of it, the empty grocery store shelves, and the fear it instills in most people, you can see how this crisis will likely lead to many more cases of anxiety. 

In dealing with changes to everyday life caused by COVID-19, there can be a sense of loss of control which causes individuals to worry.  It often has been said that worry can be a waste of emotion if you cannot do anything about what is causing that worry; that is often true.  However, if you can turn that worry into action, then it helps put you in control and reduce the amount of worry.  Focus on what you can control, not what is out of your control.

The following actions can help relieve worry and anxiety and help bring a sense of control to what can seem out of control:

  • Practice good hygiene skills — wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds or more, practice not touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth), and covering coughs with elbow or tissue.
  • Practice social distancing — keeping at least six feet from people when out in public
  • Stock supplies such as food, medications, and hygiene products in case of a 14-day or longer quarantine.
  • Avoid air and sea travel
  • Modify work schedule and environment to be able to work from home, if possible
  • Practice a good sleep routine
  • Practice self-calming strategies (deep breathing, relaxation exercises, guided imagery, etc.)
  • Enjoy fresh air and sunshine
  • Exercise daily, even if just going for a walk
  • Stay in contact with friends and family through phone calls, text, emails, and video chatting
  • Practice hobbies that involve social distancing

It is also important to recognize that when anxiety is out of control, it can interfere with daily functioning: your job, home life, relationships with others, and school work can suffer. In these cases, it is important to remember that anxiety is a treatable condition and seeking help to address it is normal.  Professionals in the behavioral health community are responding to COVID-19 through telehealth means so individuals can stay in their homes while using video platforms like Skype to connect. If you are experiencing intense anxiety that is interfering with your ability to cope and go about your daily tasks, please reach out for help. At SMA Healthcare, our 24/7 helpline is 800-539-4228. 

Music to Our Ears

Music has been recognized as a way of relieving stress for thousands of years.  The Bible even records a young David playing the lyre for King Saul to relieve the torment from a “harmful spirit.”  Music has a healing effect that few can deny, and most individuals can point to a favorite song that lifts their spirits and moves their bodies to dancing, or that evokes powerful memories and emotions. 

So, should music be a part of everyone’s personal wellness plan?

Studies support our instinctive convictions that music is simply good for us. Learning to play music in school results in better math performance and higher SAT scores. Listening to music has been shown to reduce the need for pain medication, lower stress levels, improve sleep, increase concentration, lower blood pressure, and even helps people heal faster after surgery.

Music played at a steady beat can stabilize heart rates in babies in a NICU, and songwriting with a music therapist can help individuals express themselves and gain a sense of self-worth.  It can have a calming effect, and also help to process emotions. 

Music should not be considered a replacement for medication when someone suffers from a serious medical or psychiatric illness, but it may be one of the best complimentary treatments available. 

One of the most powerful uses of music is to tap into the memories of people who are living with dementia.  The documentary Alive Inside demonstrated the power of music to reinvigorate people by unlocking memories through music, and the Alive Inside Coalition and Music and Memory Organization work to bring this awareness to the world and provide iPods and headphones to elderly patients. As patients listen to songs from times of their past, they are reconnected with memories hidden inside their brains, improving their mood and psychological state. 

Go dance in the rain, sing in the shower, or grab your guitar and head to a local open mic night.  Music is truly nourishment for your brain and soul.  Not only can it lift our spirits, but it can bring us together as we celebrate and make music together.  In the words of folk musician Pete Seeger, “I always believed that the right song at the right moment could change history.”  So, find your song, sing it loud, and change the world!

 

https://musicandmemory.org/

https://www.aliveinside.org/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2016/The-Impact-of-Music-Therapy-on-Mental-Health

https://www.musictherapy.org/

https://www.mhtp.org/

https://www.nammfoundation.org/articles/2014-06-01/benefits-learning-and-playing-music-adults?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIk5qN667-5wIVg5OzCh0oeQ1pEAAYASAAEgIisfD_BwE

https://www.nammfoundation.org/educator-resources/why-learn-play-music-advocacy-brochure-0?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuKaOxOn-5wIVD1YMCh0IUQBEEAAYASAAEgI1IPD_BwE

NARCAN 101 – Opiate and Opioid Overdose Reversal

In 2018, there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States, a 4.1% decline from 2017 (70,237 deaths).1 Even with the decline from 2017 to 2018, drug overdose deaths are still an epidemic in our nation. So, what can be done to help alleviate the situation? One solution is the administering of NARCAN.

NARCAN is an FDA approved medication that is safe and effective for opioid/opiate overdose reversals. Narcan – also known as Naloxone – continues to be a huge benefit in harm reduction and saving lives in the ongoing opioid epidemic.  Naloxone is a drug that temporarily counteracts opioid overdose.  It takes between 2-5 minutes to work and, since the introduction of the nasal spray form, has been used with increased frequency by the public — not just professional first responders, nurses, and physicians. 

It comes in two other forms: an auto-injectable variety used intramuscularly through clothing, and intravenously, which has been used in used in emergency rooms for many years.  

Just giving Narcan is not a solution to overdose, though.  For the first responder who is a civilian, family member, friend, etc, 911 should be called immediately and rescue breathing should be initiated — if needed. In a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 83% of all lives saved from opioid overdose involve responders on the scene and not 911 responders.

How does Narcan work? It occupies the opioid receptor sites in the brain previously occupied by the opioids which created the overdose.  By occupying those receptor sites, it stops the flow of dopamine that leads to continued respiratory depression and decreased level of consciousness.  With reversal of the overdose, respirations, which have slowed dramatically, return to normal as does level of consciousness and other vital signs (i.e. blood pressure and pulse).

With the passage of The Good Samaritan Law, which protects civilians who administer Naloxone to victims of opioid overdose from liability, more lives are being saved.  It is the policy of many medication assisted treatment clinics and detoxification units — such as those here at SMA Healthcare — to give Narcan to patients, where it is medically appropriate, whom we judge to be at increased risk for overdose. While Narcan saves lives, medication assisted treatment with medications like Suboxone, Subutex, and Vivitrol, combined with psychotherapy and community support groups working a daily structed program are the keys to recovery.

The two most common offending opioids in overdose deaths are fentanyl and heroin, respectively. In Fentanyl overdoses, and with the duration of Narcan only lasting 30-90 minutes, it can sometimes take 3-4 ampules of Naloxone to reverse a severe overdose in the emergency room. Unfortunately, the opioid addict often will receive Fentanyl, the strongest of illicit opioids, without knowing; it could pressed into “street drugs” or mixed with powder Heroin. 

If improvement in an overdose victim is not seen in 3 minutes, a second dose of Narcan should be administered. If the addict has other substances in their body such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, Narcan will have no effect on these substances making the situation more complicated.

After administering naloxone, the victim will be in a state of withdrawal. Some of the side effects include: fatigue, fever/sweating, upset stomach, vomiting; pain/aches; loss of bowel/bladder function; confusion, disorientation; increased heart rate/breathing.

Reducing and/or ending overdose deaths is not a one-size-fits-all approach. However, Narcan has proven to be a capable solution to saving lives of those who have overdosed. For questions or more information about Narcan, visit samhsa.gov.

 

 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db356.htm