Narcan Saves Lives | Reversing Overdose Statistics
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Narcan can reverse a drug overdose, preventing death.

Opioid abuse resulted in 51,000 deaths in 2013 and has risen every year since.

Paramedics and hospitals use Narcan to save lives every day. However, medical services sometimes are not able to arrive in time. More and more states now allow the public to possess and administer the medication.

If your loved one struggles with addiction to opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers, you should look to keep Narcan on-hand.

Narcan can reverse a drug overdose, preventing death.

How Narcan Works

Naloxone, the active ingredient in Narcan, enters the bloodstream through the mucous membranes in the nose. The person does not need to be breathing for the dose to be absorbed.

When an overdose of opioids is taken, the drugs overwhelm receptors in the brain and interrupt the body’s natural impulse to breathe.

Narcan has a stronger attraction to the same receptors in the brain to prevent the drugs from binding there.

The life-saving medication:

  • Has no serious side effects
  • Is non-addictive
  • Cannot cause an overdose

Narcan usually reverses the effects of opioid overdose in one to three minutes, which provides additional time for emergency medical help to arrive. While the effects of Narcan last for 30-90 minutes, the drugs remain in the body, so overdose can return.

Narcan is not a substitute for anti-craving medications or emergency personnel. Most importantly, the medication is not a cure for opioid dependency/addiction. Learn how drug addiction is treated.


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Donny S.
Treatment Center

I broke my thumb playing high school football and was prescribed Oxycontin. When my doctor refused to supply more, and after experiencing withdrawal, I realized I was addicted. Over the next three years, I resorted to stealing — often from family. I lost my college scholarship, wrecked my car and got arrested. By this point, my soul was completely crushed by what was now a heroin addiction.

On November 22, 2013, after six months clean, I overdosed. I was found unconscious and unresponsive in my mom’s car parked in a public lot. An anonymous good Samaritan called 911. The paramedics literally brought me back to life with Narcan. It's painful for me to imagine what could have happened. My mother's worst nightmare. The bottom line is, Narcan saved my life. And I’m here today close to seven months clean.

June 30
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Ambrosia Treatment Center
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Ambrosia Treatment Center
Jennifer P.
Treatment Center
On June 15, I was released from jail after serving a 364-day sentence. I spent hours smoking crack to celebrate and thought one bag of heroin would bring me down from my high, so I could sleep it off and never touch drugs again. But as I was injecting the needle, I could feel that this shot was going to be my last. Next thing I know, I am gasping for air. As my blurry vision started clearing, I was surrounded by emergency medical staff. They brought me back to life by injecting Narcan. At the time, I was disappointed that they just didn’t leave me to die. I didn’t want to be a slave to the disease anymore.

Today, over a year later, I am truly grateful that I got a chance to find a new way of life. Though that was not my last time using, it led me to get help. I am happy to wake up every day and just breathe. I am blessed to have been given another chance to live. I thank God, Narcan & the EMS for saving my life.

August 10
5 5

Everything Else You Need to Know About Narcan...

Administration of Narcan is a three-step process:

  1. Peel back the package to remove the device.
  2. Lay the person on their back. Support their neck with your hand and allow the head to tilt back. Place the tip of the nozzle in either nostril until your fingers touch the bottom of the patient’s nose.
  3. Press the plunger firmly to release the dose into the patient’s nose.

NOTE: Each Narcan spray contains only one dose of medicine and cannot be reused. Also, you would not be able give yourself Narcan when overdosed.

Because of the surging number of overdoses, the states below allow major pharmacies including CVS, Walgreen’s and Rite Aid to sell Naloxone without getting a prescription from a doctor.

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Florida • Georgia • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kentucky • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Minnesota • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • Ohio • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin

For now, all other states do need to get a prescription by a doctor to get Naloxone, though the following states have pending legislation that will make Narcan available over-the-counter in the future.

Arkansas • Louisiana • Missouri • North Dakota • Virginia

The following states issue 3rd party prescriptions for Narcan.

Hawaii • Michigan • Mississippi • Nebraska • Oklahoma • South Dakota

These states require a prescription written for the person of concern.

Delaware • Montana • Kansas • Wyoming

Naloxone may not be available at every pharmacy in Minnesota and Washington. Major pharmacies, such as CVS or Walgreens, should have Narcan available for purchase. Narcan should be stored at room temperature and will expire in 18-24 months.

After a dose of Narcan, the person should wake up. If that does not happen after five minutes, a second dose should be given in the other nostril. Do not assume that an overdose has ended if symptoms improve. Always call 911 and stay with the person during an overdose.

Monitor breathing closely.

  • If breathing is completely stopped, CPR should be performed so that the person gets oxygen to their brain. Oxygen is the key to survival for someone experiencing an overdose.
  • If the person is unresponsive to painful stimuli, but their breathing is normal or fast, turn them on their side.

Side effects are generally mild.

Because Narcan reverses opioid effects, sudden withdrawal symptoms may also occur, including flushing, dizziness, tiredness, weakness, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, body aches, diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, fever, chills, goosebumps, sneezing, shortness of breath or runny nose.

Allergic reactions can occur.

Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, worsening or difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat. Do not administer a second dose if you see these reactions.

As of 2015, the 203 U.S. programs distributing Narcan to the public reported training 57,033 people with 12,171 documented overdose reversals. 

Research has specifically investigated this common concern. The findings overwhelmingly prove that the availability of Narcan does not encourage people to use opioids more often or in greater amounts.

Both U.S. and international health organizations recommend providing Narcan to anyone who might witness an opioid overdose including patients in substance use treatment programs, persons leaving prison and jail, and as a component of responsible opioid prescribing.

The bottom-line is that Narcan is safe and reduces overdose deaths. Other goals, such as decreasing drug use, can only be accomplished if the user is alive.


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