LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) In the world of addiction treatment and recovery, Naloxone is like a paramedic showing up to the scene of an emergency.
"It's a lifesaving drug," said James Stewart, a clinical psychologist with Unlimited Potential Foundation in Lynchburg, which treats addition in young people.
In the last year Naloxone has become more widely available in Virginia. Laws have changed allowing pharmacists to sell the medication to people without a prescription.
"Pharmacies all around the state can dispense Naloxone in the same way a pharmacist can give a flu shot," said James Thompson, a physician and medical director for Clean Life Medical, a Richmond-based organization that helps treat drug addictions.
When used properly health professionals say Naloxone can completely reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
"Any patient can go to CVS in Virginia, ask for the medication, and be dispensed," explained Thompson, who held a training session in Lynchburg Thursday to inform people about Naloxone.
"Just like other life saving skills, like CPR, this device can be the difference between someone dying or living," Thompson said.
Naloxone is intended for emergency use only, but Thompson admits there is room for the medication to be abused.
"Opioid overdoes is a terrifying, deadly experience," explained Thompson. "It is not something that even the most reckless opioid addict wants to toy with."
Non-profits like the Unlimited Potential Foundation see many positive benefits coming from Naloxone's wider availability.
"If Naloxone is more readily available in our community, it may make a very clear difference between life and death," said Stewart.
Naloxone is packaged to give as an injection or through squirts in the nose.