The goal of the Foundation for the Responsible Administration of Emergency Medicines (FRAEM) is to promote the education of the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, and the administration of naloxone when necessary. With the widespread dissemination of highly potent opioids into the recreational drug supply, opioid overdoses have skyrocketed in North America over the past five years.
With such broad use of opioids, on their own and within mixtures of other recreational drugs, the potential for overdose is no longer relegated to chronic “addicts” that we often consider. Opioid overdose is not nearly as predictable as it used to be – it can happen to experimenters, frequent non-addicted users, occasional users, and even first-time users.
Overdoses can occur quickly, with serious consequences. Opiate and opioid overdoses lead to suppression of respiration. Without breathing, brain damage starts in approximately three minutes, and the heart stops at approximately the six minute mark. With such rapid progression, the need for naloxone training needs to occur broadly across our society. Although training users of opiates and opioids themselves is important, training people who may encounter someone who could overdose is extremely important. Someone who has lost consciousness cannot provide the lifesaving actions required to save himself – participation has to be on a broader, public level.
Setting the standard
The Foundation is leading efforts to provide international standards for the administration of naloxone, whether it be by intramuscular injection, spray, or otherwise, for use by bystanders during an opioid emergency, where no trained medical personnel are present.
Standard setting considers recognition of the signs and symptoms of an overdose, as well as establishing best practices for naloxone administration by bystanders in an opiate or opioid emergency.