Reversing an overdose isn’t complicated, but getting the antidote can be

Last month, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory urging more Americans to learn to use the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, and carry it with them in case they encounter someone who has overdosed.

With the increase in overdoses nationwide, the advisory suggests that lay responders — people who may witness an overdose before police or EMS arrive — can play a critical role in saving lives.

But if you’re not a medical professional, getting a dose of naloxone can be difficult. It is a prescription drug and normally a doctor or nurse would have to directly prescribe it for the person at risk of overdosing. Corey Davis, an attorney for the National Health Law Program, says that creates a barrier for people with addiction.

“A lot of people at risk of an overdose don’t have contact with a medical provider or they’re afraid because of stigma,” he says.

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