Questions about Narcan?

  • 1 yr ago



Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is a medication used to reverse or reduce the effects of opioids which blocks the opioid’s effect on the brain. Narcan can be a lifesaver for someone taking opioids, oxycodone, heroin or fentanyl. Thanks to a new law in New Jersey, most pharmacies will sell naloxone without prescription.

See below for guidance to using Narcan correctly:

How do I know if someone is overdosing?

Their breathing may be slowed, with gurgling, or stopped altogether. Their pupils may be narrowed to a pinpoint, and their lips or fingernails may turn blue or purple. Their skin could be clammy to the touch. Even by shaking them and shouting loudly, you cannot wake them.

Should I test the plunger first to make sure it’s working?

No. If you prime the spray’s plunger you will release the dose and waste it.

What do I do after I’ve given the spray and called 911?

Make sure the person’s airways are protected and clear. Roll the person on their side and ensure they are in the recovery position as shown below.

Will the spray be harmful if it turns out the person wasn’t overdosing on an opioid?

No. Unless someone has an allergy to naloxone, which is rare, the safest bet is to use the spray.

What’s in the Narcan box?

A box contains two palm-size nasal spray plunger devices, each with four milligrams of naloxone.

How should I use it?

Gently tilt back the person’s head. Insert the spray tip into one nostril until both fingers are against the nose. Push the plunger to release the full dose.

The kits have two doses. Should I use the second?

Usually one dose will be sufficient. But if the person has not begun to wake up after two or three minutes, apply the second dose in the other nostril, particularly if you know a stronger opioid like fentanyl could have been involved.

Why carry naloxone?

If you know people who use drugs even casually, or if you use opioids yourself, there is no downside to carrying Narcan. According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021, bystanders were present at 46 percent of fatal opioid overdoses. If they had been carrying naloxone and knew how to use it, lives could have been saved.

For more information on Narcan, visit:

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