Commentary: Having Naloxone on hand could help save a life

Too many Delaware residents continue to die from drug overdoses, but there is hope and there is help available to prevent further loss of life. As of Oct. 9, there have been a total of 213 suspected fatal drug overdoses in Delaware, according to the state Division of Forensic Science (DFS). An important tool in the fight against fatal overdoses is the use of naloxone.

In the state of Delaware, first responders carry Naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that temporarily blocks the effects of an opioid overdose. In 2018, first responders administered 3,728 doses of naloxone, in comparison to 2017 with a total of 2,861 administered doses of naloxone; a 30 percent increase. When community members have naloxone on hand and are trained to administer it correctly, it allows enough time for emergency personnel to arrive and treat individuals who are suffering.

Approximately 80 percent of drug overdoses happen in a residence. When an overdose occurs, if someone was nearby, had naloxone along with the training on how to administer it, they could potentially save someone’s life. Naloxone can be purchased without a prescription at major participating pharmacies throughout Delaware. It is also available at statewide distribution and training events as well.

Dr. Karyl Rattay

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, creating time for medical personnel help to arrive. If you find someone in the midst of a suspected drug overdose, DPH recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone.

Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care; seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital. Information on where to find naloxone can be found at, the state’s one-stop online resource for information on substance use prevention, treatment and recovery.

Addiction is a disease; one that is treatable. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, aid is right at your fingertips at Help Is Here contains information on how to respond to an overdose, along with listings for substance abuse treatment support including the names and phone numbers of detox, treatment, and recovery centers. Help Is Here is also a resource to help individuals who are dealing with mental health issues as well.

If you, or someone you know, struggle with opioid abuse or is taking opioids for pain management, we advise you to download the OpiRescueDE app on your phone. The app is available for free on both Apple and Android devices, the OpiRescueDE app can also be downloaded from This app will provide you with information on where to find naloxone, how to recognize a drug overdose, and step-by-step instructions on how to administer it.

We need the public’s help if we are going to stem the growing number of overdose deaths in Delaware and reverse the tide of addiction. Save a life by downloading the OpiRescueDE app, keep naloxone where it can be easily accessible in emergencies, and by call 911 if you see signs that someone is experiencing an overdose.

Dr. Karyl Rattay is director of the Delaware Division of Public Health.

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