Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist - meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.
How is Naloxone Given?
There are three FDA-approved formulations of naloxone:
EVZIO ® is a prefilled auto-injection device that makes it easy for families or emergency personnel to inject naloxone quickly into the outer thigh. Once activated, the device provides verbal instruction to the user describing how to deliver the medication, similar to automated defibrillators.
NARCAN ® Nasal Spray is a prefilled, needle-free device that requires no assembly and is sprayed into one nostril while patients lay on their back.
Note: Both NARCAN ® Nasal Spray and EVZIO ® are packaged in a carton containing two doses to allow for repeat dosing if needed. They are relatively easy to use and suitable for home use in emergency situations.
Who Can Give Naloxone to Someone Who Has Overdosed?
The liquid for injection is commonly used by paramedics, emergency room doctors, and other specially trained first responders. To facilitate ease of use, NARCAN ® Nasal Spray is now available, which allows for naloxone to be sprayed into the nose. While improvised atomizers have been used in the past to convert syringes for use as nasal spray, these may not deliver the appropriate dose. Depending on the state you live in, friends, family members, and others in the community may give the auto-injector and nasal spray formulation of naloxone to someone who has overdosed. Some states require a physician to prescribe naloxone; in other states, pharmacies may distribute naloxone in an outpatient setting without bringing in a prescription from a physician. To learn about the laws regarding naloxone in your state, see the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System website.
What Precautions Are Needed When Giving Naloxone?
People who are given naloxone should be observed constantly until emergency care arrives and for at least 2 hours by medical personnel after the last dose of naloxone to make sure breathing does not slow or stop.
Where Can I Get Naloxone?
Naloxone is a prescription drug. You can buy naloxone in many pharmacies, in some cases without bringing in a prescription from a physician. Law enforcement, EMS, and community-based naloxone distribution programs can apply to be a Qualified Purchaser to order naloxone or work with their state or local health departments. Here are some resources to help you find naloxone in your area:
Some states have their own website:
Some pharmacies offer naloxone in an outpatient setting (without bringing in a prescription from a physician). Check with your local pharmacy.
Information provided above is courtesy of: https://www.drugabuse.gov/
Naloxone is effective in countering the negative impact of an opioid overdose, but it should only be used to help a person recover from an opioid overdose. It is not meant to be treatment for an addiction to opioids. Addiction treatment requires a comprehensive program of specific therapies, counseling and psychological support services.
Those who do not seek medical treatment after receiving naloxone may face the urge to take more drugs - especially if they are addicted to opioids. Naloxone stays in the body approximately one hour, sometimes a little more. However, some opioids can stay in the body for up to 12 hours, meaning naloxone will wear off long before the drug. Consuming additional opioids after taking the medication significantly increases the risk of a second overdose.
If you are struggling with an addiction to opioids, connect with someone who can help you now by calling Florida Center for Recovery at our toll free number: 800-643-4005. Our recovery advisors are available 24/7 to provide you with information regarding treatment, admissions, insurance and private pay options.