About Naloxone (Narcan®)

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This information explains what naloxone (Narcan) is and when to use it.

If you’re taking opioids, it’s important that the people you live with know when and how to use naloxone in case of an emergency. Ask everyone to read the instructions that come with your prescription. They should also know where to find it in your home in case you need it.

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What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse or block the effects of an opioid overdose. An opioid overdose happens if you take more opioids than your healthcare provider prescribes you and your breathing slows down or stops.

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Why do I need naloxone?

If you’re prescribed opioids, we will also prescribe you naloxone. Opioids are strong painkillers prescribed to help with moderate to severe pain. Using them too much or in the wrong way can lead to a strong, harmful need to keep using them. For more information, read Opioids: What You Need to Know.

If you follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking opioids, you will not need to use naloxone. But we want to make sure you have it in case of an emergency.

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When should I use naloxone?

Use naloxone during an emergency when you or a person taking opioids takes more than what’s prescribed and shows signs of an overdose.

Signs of an opioid overdose include:

  • Slow or stopped breathing.
  • Unresponsive even when shaking the person or calling their name.
  • Blue, gray, or white lips and fingernails.
  • Tiny pupils (dark dot in the center of the eye).
  • Snoring or gurgling sounds.

Always call 911 after using naloxone. Its effects only last 30 to 90 minutes, and you may need more medical care. If you’re unsure if you should use naloxone, call 911, and follow the operator’s instructions.

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How do I use naloxone?

Naloxone comes as a nasal (nose) spray or an injection (shot). It will come with instructions on how to use it. Follow the instructions that come with it and call 911.

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Where can I get naloxone?

If you’re prescribed opioids, we will also prescribe you naloxone.

You can also buy naloxone without a prescription from your local pharmacy. Ask a pharmacy employee for help.

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Does my insurance cover naloxone?

Check with your insurance provider to find out if naloxone is covered or what your co-pay is.

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