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Understanding Naloxone

Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medication called an “opioid antagonist” used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, for example morphine and heroin overdose. Specifically, naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system; the medication has no effect if opioids are absent. Although traditionally administered by emergency response personnel, naloxone can be administered by minimally trained laypeople, which makes it ideal for treating overdose in people who have been prescribed opioid pain medication and in people who use heroin and other opioids. Naloxone has no potential for abuse. Naloxone may be injected in the muscle, vein or under the skin or sprayed into the nose. Naloxone that is injected comes in a lower concentration (0.4mg/1mL) than Naloxone that is sprayed up the nose (2mg/2mL).  It is a temporary drug that wears off in 20-90 minutes.

What is an overdose?

Graphics: Maya Doe-Simkins

Understanding Naloxone

Graphics: Maya Doe-Simkins

 Next Section: Overdose Risks & Prevention

 

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