Naloxone Saves Lives

Naloxone is a life-saving drug which is also known by the brand name, Narcan. It simply blocks opioid receptors in the central nervous system and reverses an opioid overdose.

How does a doctor give Naloxone?

Naloxone is given by nasal spray, injection or even IV drip in the hospital. Doctors do give naloxone in the ER, but it can also be given by paramedics, nurses, police officers and even loved ones or bystanders. In short, anyone can administer naloxone to a person who is overdosing on opioids.

What happens when a person takes too much of an opiate or opioid?

If a person takes too much heroin or pain pills, their breathing slows down. In fact, it can slow down to the point where the person stops breathing altogether. When naloxone, or Narcan, is given, the person starts to breath again. This means that they have a chance to survive the overdose.

After a person gets Narcan and survives the overdose, do they still have to go to a hospital?

If you give naloxone/Narcan to a person and they are revived from an overdose, your job is not done yet. You must also call 911 immediately or have someone else nearby make the call. Narcan is short acting and it can wear off before the opioid wears off. This means that the person’s overdose may resume and they could stop breathing again. A full medical exam at the hospital is also important to see if any damage was done during the overdose.

Should I carry naloxone with me everywhere?

This is not a bad idea. I have even heard of someone overdosing on opioids in the middle of a Narcotics Anonymous meeting! If you carry Narcan, you may one day save a life. It is recommended that Narcan be in the homes of anyone who takes opioids. This means people who are prescribed pain medication, even if they take it as directed, and of course in the homes where opioid abuse could be taking place. I have recommended that Narcan should be available in public spaces, just like fire extinguishers and automated defibrillators. The more of it out there, the better chance we have to stop deadly overdoses.

Does a doctor have to prescribe naloxone?

Doctors can definitely prescribe naloxone to their patients. They can prescribe it to patients who are using opioids and they can prescribe it to patients recovering from opioid addiction. In fact, doctors can prescribe it to patients who live in the same house with someone using opioids.

Can naloxone be obtained without a prescription

In some states, this is possible. For example, in my state of Florida, no prescription is needed to obtain Narcan. Walgreens is an excellent place to get Narcan without the need for a doctor’s prescription.