Naloxone is an FDA-approved “rescue drug” that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose by helping a person to start breathing again. The most common form of naloxone available in Siskiyou County is Narcan nasal spray. Naloxone:
- only works on opioids, and has no effect on someone who has not taken opioids.
- cannot be used to get high and is not addictive.
- has a long safety history, and adverse side effects are rare.
- can be easily and safely administered by anyone.
How Naloxone Works
Naloxone attaches to the same brain receptors as opioids, but more strongly, kicking off the opioids and “taking over” the receptors. Since opioids attach to the same receptors that control breathing, breathing is restored.
When naloxone wears off in about 60-90 minutes, any opioids still in the brain can return to the receptors, re-attaching to them. The person may stop breathing again and need a second dose, so they need to be closely monitored.
Who Should Carry Naloxone?
Overdoses can happen anywhere: in a parking lot, public restroom, at home, or in a city park. And just as epinephrine is used in emergencies for bee stings, Naloxone is used in emergencies as a lifesaving drug.
- People taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for the management of chronic pain
- Those taking prescription opioids AND using alcohol or sedating medications
- People misusing prescription opioids or using illegal opioids such as heroin
- Anyone with a history of opioid use disorder
- Those completing opioid detoxification
- Anyone recently discharged from emergency medical care following an opioid overdose
- Those being released from incarceration with a history of opioid use
- Family and friends of people who have opioid use disorder
- Community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose
How To Give Naloxone
There are currently two injectable and two intranasal naloxone products available: Evzio and Narcan. Narcan is the easiest to use — there is nothing to mix and one simply inserts the nozzle into a nostril and pushes the plunger.
Narcan nasal spray comes in sets of two, and it is important to keep both on hand as Narcan typically wears off in 60-90 minutes. If the person who has overdosed has taken enough opiates, they may stop breathing again and need the second dose.
SIGNS OF OVERDOSE & HOW TO GIVE NARCAN
Opiate Overdose Risk Check
If you use opiates like heroin or prescription pain medicine, you may be at risk of overdose. The Stop Overdose website asks simple questions so you can determine your risk.
Frequently Asked Questions About Naloxone
Is Naloxone safe?
Does it reverse other drugs?
Does the availability of Naloxone encourage people to keep using drugs?
Naloxone is an antidote that restarts breathing. Long-term opioid use alters brain chemistry in such a way that cravings become uncontrollable. It is not a matter of will power. Opioid Use Disorder is the only chronic disease that some think people deserve to die from, though people cannot recover if they are dead.
No one says, “I want to become a drug addict.” Increasing access to Naloxone has decreased the death rate from overdose, allowing people to choose treatment. It has not been shown to increase drug use.
What about getting arrested during at the scene of an overdose?
California’s 911 Good Samaritan Law protects you and the OD victim. When you call 911 for a suspected drug overdose, those at the scene who possess individual amounts of drugs or paraphernalia will be guarded from arrest, charge and prosecution. Overdose prevention is the priority.
This law does not protect those who are on probation, have more drugs on hand than “possession for personal use,” or those who obstruct medical or law enforcement personnel.
Where to Get Naloxone
In an emergency, call 911 right away. Most EMS, law enforcement and fire personnel in Siskiyou County carry Narcan. You can get your own kit. Naloxone is often covered by insurance or available at low or no cost without a prescription. Check out the resources below to see where you can get it.
Your Local Pharmacy
The following pharmacies will provide Narcan without a prescription. Narcan is covered by Medi-Cal.
Your health care provider can write you a prescription for Narcan.
The Public Health Dept
The public health department provides free Naloxone on a walk-in basis to all community members during their normal hours of business.
Healthy Siskiyou Mobile Unit (HSMU)
This mobile van carries Naloxone for free distribution to the community. Please check with public health to find out the van’s schedule.
Community Resource Centers
In the future, Naloxone will be available for free to the public at most family resource centers.