No Town Too Small: Benton Police Will Carry Naloxone

Benton, Louisiana, may only be home to a little more than 2,000 people, but those 2,000 people now have one more layer of prevention and care in place in the event of an opiate overdose. Law enforcement officers in Benton are joining police departments across the state in keeping Narcan, also known as naloxone, with them at all times. This means that if they are first on the scene for an overdose call, they can respond appropriately.

In addition to aiding overdose victims on the scene, Police Chief Charles Pilkinton notes that keeping the medication on hand provides an added layer of protection for officers who may be accidentally exposed to fentanyl in the course of performing their duties. Exposure to just a few granules of the drug can trigger a life-threatening overdose for anyone, including law enforcement.

Says Chief Pilkington: “It’s very serious. We’re a small town, but we’re not out of the woods, so to speak, anywhere you go there’s an issue with opioids.”

The police department in Benton was able to get the drug through the deal that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry made with Pfizer, the manufacturer of Narcan. As part of an antitrust lawsuit, Landry was able to secure a settlement that, instead of cash, would provide the state of Louisiana with $1 million worth of naloxone, or about 60,000 doses of the drug. First responders can turn in vouchers to receive 10 doses of the drug at a time, free of charge, and Benton police have opted in.

The Benefits of Naloxone

Opiate drugs bind to opiate receptors in the brain, and when the dose is so high that it overwhelms these receptors, overdose occurs, slowing or stopping breathing and heart rate. The introduction of naloxone into the body effectively blocks the opiate drug from binding with these receptors and releases the person from the effects of the opiate overdose. The effect is almost immediate, and the medication has saved tens of thousands of lives. For first responders especially, and for families living with someone in active addiction, it is an important asset to have on hand.

Saving Lives with Naloxone

The most obvious benefit of naloxone is its ability to save lives. In 2017, over 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States. Many of these deaths could have been prevented with naloxone.

Naloxone has been used by emergency responders for decades to reverse opioid overdoses. More recently, naloxone has become more widely available to laypeople, including family members of people with opioid addiction.

The use of naloxone by laypeople has been shown to be effective in reversing opioid overdoses. In one study, over 80% of people who received naloxone for an overdose survived.

Administering Naloxone

Naloxone is available in several forms, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. One of the most common forms is an intranasal spray, which can be administered by anyone with minimal training. This form is particularly useful for laypeople who may encounter someone experiencing an overdose outside of a hospital setting.

Injectable naloxone is another common form. This requires more training to administer safely, but it can be more effective than intranasal naloxone in some cases.

Auto-injector devices are another option for administering naloxone. These devices are designed to be easy to use, even by someone without medical training. They are also portable and can be carried easily in a purse or backpack.

Ultimately, the choice of which form of naloxone to use will depend on the individual's needs and level of training. It's important to note that while naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose, it does not treat addiction itself. Those struggling with addiction should seek professional help and support to address their underlying issues.

Potential Side Effects and Management

Like any medication, naloxone can have potential side effects. Most of these are mild and short-lived, but it's important to be aware of them.

Common side effects of naloxone include sweating, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and tremors. These side effects usually last only a few minutes and do not require medical attention.

More serious side effects of naloxone are rare but can occur. These include seizures or sudden withdrawal symptoms in people who are physically dependent on opioids. If you or someone you know experiences these more serious side effects after receiving naloxone, seek medical attention immediately.

It's important to remember that the benefits of naloxone far outweigh its potential risks. If you or someone you know is at risk for an opioid overdose, having naloxone on hand could save a life. If you have any concerns about the use of naloxone or its potential side effects, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance.

Recognizing the Signs of an Opioid Overdose

Recognizing the signs of an opioid overdose is crucial in administering naloxone and saving a life. The most common signs of an opioid overdose include:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Blue or pale skin, lips, or nails
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Limp body
  • Unresponsiveness or inability to wake up

It's important to note that not everyone experiencing an overdose will exhibit all of these symptoms. If you suspect someone may have overdosed on opioids, it's better to err on the side of caution and administer naloxone.

When to Administer Naloxone

If you suspect someone has overdosed on opioids, it's important to act quickly and call emergency services immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, administer naloxone if it is available.

Naloxone can be administered as soon as signs of an overdose are noticed, even before emergency responders arrive. It's important to remember that naloxone only works on opioid overdoses and will not cause harm if administered when it is not needed.

If you are unsure whether someone is experiencing an opioid overdose, do not hesitate to call emergency services for guidance. Remember, acting quickly can save a life.

Combating the Opioid Epidemic

Naloxone is not just a tool to combat overdose deaths, it is also an important tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Naloxone can help to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and encourage people to seek treatment. Knowing that naloxone is available can give people struggling with addiction and their loved ones the confidence to seek help without fear of judgment or legal repercussions.

Naloxone can also provide a bridge to addiction treatment. After an overdose is reversed, a person may be more receptive to seeking treatment for their addiction.

Not a Cure

Naloxone is an important weapon in the fight against the opiate epidemic, but it is by no means a cure for addiction, nor does it guarantee that an overdose will not turn deadly. There are a number of factors that will determine whether or not naloxone will be effective in the treatment of an overdose, including:

Type of drug: Naloxone is only effective in overturning an opiate overdose. It will not be effective if the drug that triggered the overdose response is a stimulant, sedative, or designer drug. Additionally, if opiates are used with another drug, naloxone may not be able to reverse the responses of the body. It will only unseat opiates from opiate receptors and stop their effect.

Amount of drug: Even if the only drug in use is an opiate, it may not be possible to reverse the overdose if the dose is high enough or the potency of the drug is too strong. For example, it is not uncommon for people who are in the throes of an overdose triggered by heroin and fentanyl to require three or more doses of the drug to “come back.” Fentanyl is exceptionally strong, and when the drug is used on its own, naloxone may not work.

Proximity and timing: It should go without saying that simply having naloxone on standby is not enough to prevent a drug overdose. Those experiencing overdose cannot administer the drug to themselves, which means that someone else must be present, recognize the signs of overdose, be able to find the dose, and administer it properly.

Complications: Those who are living with an ongoing addiction disorder are often also living with underlying medical ailments, many of which are likely to be undiagnosed, and/or a co-occurring mental health disorder. This means that a drug overdose can trigger complications with these other issues, and naloxone will not necessarily be able to reverse those effects.

If heroin addiction or opiate addiction of any kind is plaguing your family, the only way to ensure against an overdose is to help the person in need to connect with treatment. Through medical detox and therapeutic intervention, your loved one can put all use and abuse of substances in the past and build a new life in recovery. Take the time today to discuss their options in treatment with them.


Naloxone is a powerful tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic. It can save lives, reduce stigma, and provide a bridge to addiction treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to opioids, consider obtaining naloxone and learning how to use it.


Since joining the Townsend content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.