Overdose drug naloxone more easily available to family, friends of addicts

Photo: Colorado Overdose rates
Pictured are the rates of overdose death per 100,000 people in Colorado.

Naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of heroin and prescription drug overdoses, will be more accessible to people coping with addiction, as well as their loved ones and others, under a new state law.

The medication can now be prescribed under "standing orders" to people who may be in danger of an overdose, as well as friends, family members, first responders and others. Those are the people likely to see someone during an opioid overdose, according to the World Health Organization.

“This legislation will save lives,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “If we can at least prevent the potential for serious medical harm or even death by making this available, absolutely I think it’s going to make a difference.”

Colorado law protects people administering naloxone from civil and criminal liability as long as they they give the medication in good-faith to a person in the midst of an overdose.

From 2011 to 2013, an average of 7,600 Coloradans visited emergency departments each year because of drug overdoses, according to CDPHE.