What is naloxone?

Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. It blocks opioids from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain.

Naloxone is active for about 30 to 90 minutes in the body. If you give someone naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose, the naloxone may wear off before the effects of the opioids wear off. The person could overdose again. This depends on several things, including:

  • the person’s metabolism (how quickly the body processes things)
  • how much drug the person used in the first place
  • how well the liver works to process things
  • if the person uses again

Because naloxone blocks opioids from acting in the brain, it is possible that it can cause withdrawal symptoms in someone that has a habit. After giving someone naloxone, the person may feel dope sick and want to use again right away. Do not let them use again for a couple of hours. If they use, they can overdose again once the naloxone wears off. If the person uses when there is still naloxone in the system, they will not feel it at all. Naloxone will knock the drug out of the opioid receptors in the brain.

Naloxone has no other effects and cannot be used to get high. Someone cannot overdose on naloxone. Naloxone has no potential for abuse.

What does naloxone do?   

Narcan chart

How do I find naloxone?

Naloxone is available to anyone who wants it. It is free and legal to carry in Massachusetts.

You will need to go through a short training to learn how to put together the nasal spray.

You can access Naloxone one of the following ways:
1. Behind the counter at a pharmacy. All CVS and Walgreens pharmacies now have naloxone available “behind the counter”, although not all pharmacists know how to train someone to administer it. If you’re not sure how to ask a pharmacist for naloxone, print this Golden Ticket and take it with you. Remember to ask to be trained! Not all pharmacies have naloxone, so here is the most recent list of  pharmacies with a standing order to sell naloxone behind the counter: Pharmacies with Naloxone Standing Order.

2. Naloxone Pilot site. If you are a user or a potential bystander (i.e., you are at risk of overdose or you personally know someone at risk of overdose), you can get free training and naloxone at a pilot site. Check here for the closest one to you: Naloxone Resources

3. Prescription. Your doctor can write you a prescription you can fill at any pharmacy.