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October 24, 2019

I Tell My Patients: “You Might Have a Conversation with Someone and Save a Life”

By Joanne Fruth, MD


At Avance Care, we talk to our patients about Narcan at their yearly physical exam or annual wellness visit.  It’s one of the grains of sand we gather with our “checklists save lives” approach to build the foundation of our patient’s good health. Last year more than 47,000 patients died from opioid overdose, so talking about Narcan is one intervention which can make a difference.

Here’s “the talk”:

“I want to tell you about Narcan, also known as naloxone, a medication which reverses over dose from heroin, oxycodone or fentanyl”.

At this point – patients typically look a little skeptical, maybe a little defensive.  The inner thoughts may be “does she think I use drugs???”

I continue

“I am telling YOU about Narcan because

#1 It’s available without a prescription at pharmacies in North Carolina and

#2 Whether you know it or not, 1 in 7 people you see every day are touched by addiction; they may not have one, but they know someone who does. You might have a conversation with someone about Narcan and save a life.”

Most patients are surprised to know this information. Some are grateful.  I also know that statistically, about once a week, I am speaking directly with someone with Opioid Use Disorder who may go to the pharmacy today to buy naloxone.

Our Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory in April 2018 recommending family, friends and those at risk for opioid overdose have Narcan on hand.  North Carolina is one of 42 states which has issued standing prescription orders for naloxone.  Almost anyone can identify as a person eligible to request intranasal or intramuscular naloxone at participating pharmacies. Directions for use include calling 911.

Naloxone saves lives – and as physicians and health care providers, that’s what we’re in the business to do.


Dr. Fruth is a family physician with a mission to promote the benefits of primary care and especially Family Medicine (#FMrevolution).  As Medical Director at Avance Care, Dr. Fruth uses her years of experience and passion for teaching to inspire other clinicians to make each primary care visit one which builds the foundation good health

Dr. Fruth loves hiking, trips to Broadway and seeking adventure (or a quiet evening) with her emergency physician husband. She has three adult children on their own missions to make the world a better place.

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