Narcan: What You Should Know

Let’s face it, the opiate epidemic is still in full swing, and due to the increase of the already deadly street drug heroin being “cut” with synthetic fentanyl, overdoses are at a record high. Drug overdoses take more lives in the US than car accidents, and the rate of overdoses has more than doubled since the turn of the century. Fentanyl can be anywhere from 75 to thousands of times stronger than a dose of morphine, and because of this substance being cut with the street drug heroin, addicts don’t realize that their dose can be dramatically higher than they intended, and often end up overdosing with the seemingly same dose that they would normally use.  During an overdose, someone’s respiratory system fails, and they have the inability to breathe normally until it is fixed. There’s been increased awareness, there have been policy changes, there’s been further strength in the recovery community, and then there’s Narcan.

Narcan (Naloxone) is now carried by many sheriffs, EMTs, firefighters, and police officers in cities across the US. Because of its prevalence, it has had the ability to save countless lives since its release. For instance, only a few months ago nine people overdosed at a party in Santa Barbra from opiates, and all were saved due to the fact that the local sheriffs were carrying this drug on them.

What is Narcan?

Narcan, also known as Naloxone, is an opioid overdose antidote. It works nearly instantly to block the effects of the opiates and reverse the effects of the overdose. Narcan works as an “opioid antagonist” which essentially means it blocks the opiates ability to bind to the brains receptors. It can be administered by nasal spray, or by injection, and works within minutes.

How do you use Narcan?

Narcan can be injected over the clothing in instances of high emergency, and it’s even often sold as a nasal spray. To inject Naloxone, one can either inject it into a vein, into a muscle or even under the skin and it still has the ability to work. Because of this, it makes it incredibly easy to be able to use Naloxone in states of high emergency. Even if one is injected with Naloxone, it’s still highly recommended to call 911 for additional help with the issue in order to make sure the victim is properly revitalized. To use the spray, one simply holds the nasal injector into the victim’s nose and squeezes down on the toggle.

How does Narcan work?

As stated above, Narcan binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and essentially render them “useless” to the physical effects of the opiate that was ingested. The drug binds to the receptor nearly one hundred times more effective than that of an opiate, which makes it so effective.

Where is Narcan sold?

As of late 2017, Naloxone is considered an over the counter drug in 46 of the 50 states in America. This makes it incredibly accessible, especially considering its sold at major chain pharmacies like CVS.

How much does Narcan cost?

Naxolone can cost up to $130 for 2 doses, but depending on your insurance it’s possible to get for free or a copay as low as $20. To some people, $130 may seem expensive, but considering it has the ability to save a loved one’s life within minutes, this is a small price to pay.

Naloxone is considered by many to be a miracle drug because it seemingly has the ability to “raise people from the dead.” However, it’s obviously not the final answer to the opiate problem and it’s definitely more of a last resort. People report that being woken up from Naloxone is incredibly painful, but it seems like a small price to pay to be able to breathe once again. This is one of the many reasons that Naloxone is controversial, but the advocacy around the drug making it available over the counter in nearly every state has outperformed the objections.

Last Updated on February 22, 2024


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