eNewsletter - February 2016

Behavioral Health Partners

Naloxone: The Overdose Antidote and How It’s Saving Lives

Beth M. Sack, LCPC, CADC

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heroin use rates are on the rise across the United States. Increases have been seen in, both men and women, and across many demographics including most age groups and all income levels (CDC). The average age for first time use of heroin is 28 years old, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Hedden, 2015). 

In the past decade, heroin use in young adults has more than doubled (Today’s, 2015). Accordingly as heroin use has increased, so have the heroin-related overdose deaths. Heroin-related overdose deaths almost quadrupled between 2002 and 2013 (Today’s, 2015). 

In addition, the average age for first time use of a prescription painkiller is now 21 years old (Hedden, 2015). This statistic is significant considering opioid pain medication abuse can be the gateway to heroin use.  Opioid medication includes popular pain drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.  

In Naperville and the surrounding communities, we continue to see a rise in opioid and heroin related overdoses as well.  Between January 2015 and November 2015, we saw 32 overdose deaths in DuPage County alone.  On a personal note, I know two young adults who lost their lives due to overdoses in the past month.  Our community is not immune to the national statistics. 

Recently, the CDC sanctioned the use of a prescription medication called Naloxone (also known by its trade name Narcan) to help curb the high rate of overdose deaths (Today’s, 2015). Naloxone is a medication that reverses an opioid overdose. Naloxone is currently being used throughout the United States and is attributed with saving thousands of lives which previously would have most likely been lost to overdose. 

Naloxone has been shown to be safe and effective, and has been used by medical professionals for decades.  In fact, the American Medical Association, the Substance Abuse and Medical Health Administration, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have all recommended the use of Naloxone (Naloxone, 2015).  

Naloxone functions by blocking the receptors where opioids are present. If no opioids are present, there are no effects from the Naloxone that was administered. Naloxone will not make a person feel high and it only treats the effects of opioids. The only contraindication for the use of Naloxone is an allergy to it, which is rare.

In my role as manager of the Addictions Program at Linden Oaks, I have seen the benefits of Naloxone. Two years ago, Linden Oaks began providing Naloxone education to patients that presented for treatment with an opioid use disorder. By monitoring our progress with a formal research study, we have been able to show a significant improvement in patient knowledge about opioid overdose prevention.  

During family therapy sessions, our staff educates both patient and family about the availability of Naloxone. Patients receive an in depth education including a presentation about what Naloxone is and how it can be used. The education also includes how to identify someone who is overdosing and how to respond to them via the use of CPR, calling 911 and using Naloxone. 

This year, we will continue to offer this education however, we will supplement the program by providing a prescription for Naloxone to the appropriate patients. Our goal is to make sure patients’ and their families know about Naloxone and have it available to them in the event of an overdose. 

We know that Naloxone saves lives and we continue to hear so many stories about the efforts to bring Naloxone awareness to the public. We commend other organizations that train individuals in utilizing Naloxone, like the DuPage Narcon Project, whose work helped train individuals and resulted in saving 50 lives in 2015. At Linden Oaks, we will continue to build on the program we have developed in the hopes that anyone affected by opiate abuse will have Naloxone available to them in their homes.


  1. Hedden, S. L., Kennet, J., Lipari, R., Medley, G., & Tice, P. (2015, September). Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf. 
  2. Naloxone (Narcan®) Fact Sheet. (2015). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.stopoverdoseil.org/assets/naloxone-fact-sheet.pdf.
  3. Overdose. (2015). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.heroindupage.org/overdose.
  4. Today’s Heroin Epidemic. (2015). Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/index.html.

Beth M. Sack, LCPC, CADC
Beth graduated with a master’s degree from Governors State University with a focus in addiction studies in 1994. She became a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor in 1996. Beth worked at Little Company of Mary Hospital as a Chemical Dependency Counselor before coming to Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. She has worked at Linden Oaks for over 15 years, and has helped develop and currently manages Addiction Services. Her work at Linden Oaks includes designing and facilitating a weekend family program, assisting in the development of an inpatient detoxification program, implementing a Bridge Program and developing continuing care groups. Beth has also collaborated with the police department, school systems and professional organizations to prevent addiction in teens and improve access to services for individuals needing early intervention and treatment.