The Project Lazarus public health model is based on the premise that drug overdose deaths are preventable and that all communities are ultimately responsible for their own health. The model components:
- Community activation and coalition building
- Monitoring and epidemiologic surveillance
- Prevention of overdoses through medical education and other means
- Use of rescue medication to reverse overdoses by community members
- Evaluation of project components.
The last four steps operate in a cyclical manner, with community advisory boards playing the central role in developing and designing each aspect of the intervention.
Naloxone (also called Narcan) is the antidote that reverses an opioid overdose. It has been used in ambulances and hospitals for decades to reverse overdose. It's legal and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It works by neutralizing the opioids in a patient's system and helping them breathe again. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system; the medication doesn't work on other drugs. Subjects can't get high from it and it is safe for nearly everyone. It has been used in programs all over the world to effectively reverse opioid overdoses.
Naloxone is also an important tool for empowering communities to protect their health. Reviving an overdose victim can be a very powerful motivator to help people change their behaviors.