A Rutgers emergency medicine expert agrees with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams that more Americans should carry the overdose antidote naloxone — popularly known from the brand name Narcan.

The antidote is now available over the counter for about $80 dollars per dose.

Dr. Lewis Nelson, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said when encountering someone who appears to be overdosing on opioids, "having the drug widely available is certainly the optimal way to manage the problem."

"Naloxone is a drug that reverses the big complication of people who take too much opioids, which is respiratory depression," he said. "When your breathing is inadequate like that, without ... breathing for the person, which is difficult to do without medical training, the patient is likely to suffer from a lack of oxygen, and potentially, brain damage and die. Since there is really no good treatment that is readily available, naloxone is all we have."

He said Naloxone is very easy to use.

"The easiest way to give it is through intra-nasal administration, which really involves putting a little inhaler, essentially, or a syringe-like device that goes into the nose, and you press the plunger, and that sprays a dose of Naloxone into the nostril, which then gets absorbed through the inside. And over the next minute or so, the patient's breathing returns," Nelson said.

Nelson says he understands critics who say the more readily available safety net may lead to more reckless drug abuse behavior — but "you know, to be fair, we are all human, and we just tend to do things like that."

"So even if it did happen, we would like to believe, and I do believe, that there is still a net benefit in the number of lives that we are going to save," he said.

And he said that benefit will be "very positive."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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