Narcan: Not Just For Criminal Overdose
As early as the 1960s, the drug, Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, has been widely used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Medical personnel use Narcan to revive patients who have overdosed on opioid-based drugs. In criminal Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases, prosecutors try to use evidence of the revival by Narcan to support a DUI charge. The attempt to use Narcan as evidence of DUI is problematic for many reasons.
To understand the problems with the introduction of Narcan use as evidence, it is important to understand how Narcan works. A person who overdoses on opioid-containing drugs will suffer from an excess of opioids blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, causing the shut down of the body’s nervous and respiratory systems. Narcan, at least temporarily, takes the place of the opioids and prevents respiratory failure, but should be followed up by other medical intervention. More recently, due to Narcan’s simple administration techniques and minimal side effects, many states have approved Narcan administration by lay people who are close to those regularly using or addicted to opioids. Lay people or medical personnel may use Narcan to save the life of a person who recently overdosed, either intentionally or accidentally, on opioids.