Naloxone is an opioid antagonist – a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone has been nicknamed the “Lazarus Drug” because it can bring an individual who is no longer breathing, “back from the dead.” However, naloxone only works on an OPIOID overdose. It will not work on any other substance or overdose.
How does it work?
Opioids bind to receptors in the brain in charge of sending pain signals throughout the body. That’s why opioids are so good for the treatment of pain, they block those receptors, so the body no longer feels pain. However, when too many of those receptors are bound, our central nervous system starts to slow down- which means an individual’s breathing will begin to slow and could decrease all together. That is how an opioid overdose can become fatal.
Naloxone removes the opioids off and binds to those same receptors, essentially restoring regular central nervous system functioning. It lasts for 30-90 minutes before the effects of Naloxone will fade, and an individual is at risk of re-overdosing.
What are the side effects?
Naloxone is non-psychoactive, meaning it cannot be used to become impaired. Side effects from Naloxone are rare, however, individuals report immediate withdrawal symptoms after administration, that vary based on individual and substance. Naloxone can be used on adults, children, and animals if an opioid overdose is suspected. Some overdose incidents require multiple doses of Naloxone to be administered to reverse the overdose.
Types of Naloxone
There are four types of Naloxone that a community member can use, based on individual preference, insurance, and price.
- Manual (Intramuscular)
- Evzio/Auto-Injecting (Intramuscular)
- Narcan (Nasal)
- Atomizer (Nasal)
All types of Naloxone come in kits with two doses each. Each kit should be stored in room temperature and disposed of properly when expired. All of these types of Naloxone are equal in effectiveness but vary in ease of use and price.
Where can I get Naloxone?
The Utah Naloxone Standing Order allows pharmacist to distribute Naloxone to anyone without needing a prescription. You can purchase Naloxone at any pharmacy, either with insurance co-pay or out of pocket. Each kit differs in price and insurance coverage, but most range from $45 to $150 out of pocket. Many local agencies and organizations offer Naloxone kits for free to individuals who are unable to pay the pharmacy cost.