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Narcan expected on store shelves next week, mental health and addiction can go hand in hand

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Next week, the anti-overdose medication known as Narcan is expected to hit store shelves across the country. This nasal spray has been shown to be effective at reversing opioid overdoses, especially those caused by fentanyl.

While this medication has been used by medical professionals, an over-the-counter version is set for release next week.

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, a chance to remember those who have faced addiction struggles in their life.

Addiction is not only a physical condition -- it can also have mental impacts.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says drug addiction and mental health struggles often exist simultaneously.

They say one in four U.S. Adults living with serious mental health problems, also have a substance abuse problem.

In recent years, government figures show that deaths due to opioid overdoses were on the rise -- especially from substances like fentanyl.

The Texas Department of Health says on average, five Texans a day die from fentanyl poisoning -- some from just a single dose. But, Naracan -- can reverse overdose symptoms in minutes.

The Drug Enforcement Agency says fentanyl -- like many opioids -- can produce relaxation, feelings of euphoria and pain relief. It can be highly addictive -- and deadly.

And the brain itself can be impacted. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that neurons, the prefrontal cortex and endorphins are all impacted by drug addiction. These feelings and changes can cause the addictive behavior that leads to drug dependency.

The NISDA says that addiction can be treated and maintained, and the brain can make recoveries from negative impacts of addiction. You can find more about their suggestions and findings here.

Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a Report for America corps member. RFA places talented, emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7’s to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.

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