Naloxone FAQ For Patients
Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to reveal the answer.
It is a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose. It cannot be used to get high and is not addictive.
Naloxone is safe and effective. Emergency medical professionals have used it for decades. Click here for more information.
Take Home Naloxone can be obtained with a prescription from your physician or from any pharmacist in Washington under a Washington State Standing Order. However, many providers and pharmacies may not be familiar with Take Home Naloxone. Refer them to this website for more information on how to prescribe and obtain Naloxone. Kelley-Ross pharmacy is also able to prescribe and dispense Take Home Naloxone.
If you are looking for other programs where Take Home Naloxone is available, search the database at www.prescribetoprevent.com where you can search by city, state or zip code.
Research studies have investigated this common concern and found that making Naloxone available does NOT encourage people to use opiates more. The goal of distributing Naloxone and educating people about how to prevent, recognize and intervene in overdoses is to prevent deaths. Other goals, such as decreasing drug use, can only be accomplished if the user is alive.
Heroin, morphine, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methadone, hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco), codeine, and other prescription pain medications are common opioids.
For a more complete list, see NIDA’s page on commonly abused prescription drugs.
Click here for pictures of opioids and other commonly abused drugs.
Naloxone is an antidote to opioid drugs. Opioids can slow or stop a person’s breathing, which causes death. Naloxone helps the person wake up and keeps them breathing.
An overdose death may happen hours after taking drugs. If a bystander acts when they first notice a person’s breathing has slowed, or when they can’t awaken a user, there is time to call 911, start rescue breathing (if needed) and give naloxone.
No. If you suspect an opioid overdose, it is safe to give naloxone. People who used opioids will then wake up and may go into withdrawal. Withdrawal is miserable, but it’s better than dying.
Naloxone does not prevent deaths caused by other drugs such as benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax®, Klonopin® and Valium®), bath salts, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol. Always call 911 as an overdose victim may need other care.
Washington State law (RCW 69.50.315) allows anyone at risk for having or witnessing a drug overdose to obtain a prescription for Naloxone. Users, family members and concerned friends can all carry Naloxone in the same way people with allergies are allowed to carry an epinephrine syringe (“epi-pen”).
No. Take Home Naloxone is widely endorsed. In March 2012 the WA State Board of Pharmacy released a letter of support for Take Home Naloxone CDTAs. In addition, the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association both have policies supporting the availability of Take Home Naloxone:
- Promoting Prevention of Fatal Opioid Overdose, AMA Adopts New Policies, June 2012
- Preventing Overdose Through Education and Naloxone Distribution, APHA Policy Number: LB-12-02, Oct. 2012
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization issued a report supporting that Naloxone be available to first responders (e.g., police and firemen) and to people dependent on opioids, their peers and family members who are likely to be present when an overdose occurs:
Opioid Overdose: Preventing and Reducing Opioid Overdose Mortality, UNODC/WHO, June 2013
Professional research articles suggest prescribing take-home naloxone to those at risk for having an opioid overdose. For example: Diagnosing and treating opioid dependence (Hill KP, Rice LS, Connery HS, Weiss RD. Journal of Family Practice 2012;61(10):588-597)
The Good Samaritan overdose law in Washington State (RCW 69.50.315) prevents prosecution for drug possession for people who have an overdose or who seek medical help for someone else having an overdose. They will not be prosecuted for possession of drugs.
Bystanders can safely and legally spray naloxone into the nose or inject it into a muscle.
Into the nose (intranasal spray):
The Naloxone for nasal use is given with a foam tip (nebulizer, adapter, or atomizer) that is put on a syringe then placed into the nostril. Intranasal Naloxone has not been approved by the FDA (i.e., it is an “off-label” delivery method), but can be legally prescribed by a physician or approved pharmacists. First responders often give Naloxone intranasally. Click here to learn more.
Into the muscle (intramuscular injection):
Naloxone should be injected into the upper arm muscle (the deltoid) or the outer thigh. In an emergency, it is safe to inject through clothing. Click here to learn more.
Kelley-Ross Pharmacy provides training on how to administer these medications as part of our Take Home Naloxone program.
Naloxone acts in less than minutes. If the person doesn’t wake up in five minutes, bystanders should give a second dose. (Rescue breathing should be done while you wait for the Naloxone to take effect so that the person gets oxygen to his or her brain).
Yes. Naloxone typically wears off in 30-90 minutes and the person can stop breathing again unless more Naloxone is available. For this reason, it is safest to call 911 and seek immediate medical care.
It depends. Your insurance may cover part of the Naloxone drug itself. However, insurance does not cover the nasal atomizer for intranasal administration. Also, if you go to a pharmacy, insurance will not cover the consultation fee for the pharmacist to provide training and write the prescription.
There are four popular styles of Naloxone. They include: Narcan® Nasal Spray, Intranasal Naloxone, Injectable Naloxone and EVZIO. All do an outstanding job and although they all counter the effects of an opioid overdose, they do it in very different ways.
Watch these helpful training videos to see how they all work:
To help take the confusion out of using any one of the top four Naloxone brands (in the US), we offer the following compilation of training videos covering: Narcan® Nasal Spray, Intranasal Naloxone, Injectable Naloxone and EVZIO.
These are short, precise and easy to watch instructional videos presented by our Clinical Pharmacist: Allyson Eichner, PharmD:
Narcan® Nasal Spray
This is a full length version including all four Naloxone training videos, please click here: