Utah ranks fourth in the nation for drug overdose deaths, with an average of 33 per month. Fortunately, there are interventions that can save lives and give a second chance to those struggling with addiction.

During the 2016 legislative session, Republican Rep. Steve Eliason sponsored a bill that would allow for the dispensing of naloxone for anyone at increased risk of opioid overdose without a prescription. Naloxone can reverse heroin and prescription opioid overdoses by blocking the drugs’ effects on the brain. The bill passed and on Dec. 8, the Utah Department of Health signed a standing order allowing for pharmacists to dispense the drug in accordance with the law.

Pharmacies may choose whether to participate in the standing order, but those that do must report annually to the Utah Department of Health the number of doses dispensed. Naloxone generally has no side effects and has no potential for abuse.

As opioid abuse becomes a bigger problem throughout the nation and in Utah, we as lawmakers are concerned for those in our communities who have found themselves struggling with the problem of substance abuse. This bill may mean the difference between life and death for those individuals, and we hope that the second chance naloxone can provide will help them step out of this destructive cycle once and for all.