Overdose Prevention – Naloxone / Narcan

What is Naloxone/Narcan?
Naloxone is a medicine that can block opioid-based drugs from making their way to your brain. By counteracting the effects of drugs on the nervous system, Naloxone changes the respiratory depression that is common with fatal drug overdoses. Naloxone is typically given as an injection into the muscle, or as a nasal spray.

Who gives the Naloxone in emergencies?
Naloxone has been administered in emergency medicine for decades and is becoming more commonly used by non-medical professionals. Now, first responders, such as Firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and others are typically the first to administer the drug. However, peers, friends, family or others who are witnessing an overdose can safely and easily administer Naloxone while waiting for first responders or medical professionals to arrive. Administering the drug can help restore the victim’s breathing and reduce the likelihood of brain damage and death.

Is drug overdose a problem in the United States?
Drug overdose is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Over 50% of cases dealing with overdoses involve prescription drugs. In the past 15 years, the total number of prescriptions for painkillers has quadrupled, yet the total number of Americans reporting pain has stayed consistent.
What about in Texas?
Drug overdose is a leading cause of accidental deaths in Texas, and it continues to grow. Most overdose fatalities involve prescription painkillers. SB 1462 was signed by Governor Abbott in May 2015 as part of a public health strategy to avoid needless overdose deaths.

What does SB 1462 do?
The law allows any person authorized to prescribe Naloxone to an individual who needs medical attention, as well as a family member, friend or other people who would be in a position to help. Naloxone can be prescribed as a prescription for anyone who meets the criteria specified. Pharmacists are permitted to dispense Naloxone under any prescription that is authorized by law. This law protects the prescriber and dispenser with protection from criminal and civil liability, as well as professional disciplinary action.

Where can you Naloxone?
Until recently, Naloxone was only available through hospitals, paramedics, clinics or first responders. However, depending on where you live, obtaining naloxone can be quite simple.

As of now, 14 states allow you to buy Naloxone without a prescription: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Long Island, Arkansas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, California, South Caroline, Utah, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

You can now obtain this reversal drug from Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aide through their pharmacies.

Use the Naloxone Finder to see where you can get naloxone nearest you.

How can Texans get Naloxone?
Under SB 1462, health care professionals can provide naloxone to any person who is at risk of a drug overdose, or who may be in a position to help someone experiencing an overdose. Through a set prescription, pharmacists and other health care practitioners can administer naloxone to any person they deem capable of giving the drug to an overdose victim in an emergency.

Is there a potential for abuse with Naloxone?
Naloxone is not a controlled substance and has no addictive or psychoactive properties, and has few side effects. It has no effect on people who do not have drugs in their system. People who regularly use drugs may experience withdrawal symptoms when given naloxone, but they are not life-threatening.

Step-by-step instructions on how to use Naloxone/Narcan.
For information on how to use naloxone nasal spray, and injectable naloxone, click here.

Resources to use in case you have more questions.
For any additional questions you may have concerning Naloxone and Narcan, consider the following resources:

Naloxone overdose prevention laws.
Opioid medication safety: the role of naloxone.
Naloxone: uses, dose and side effects.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.