What is naloxone?

About the life-saving opioid-reversing drug

Naloxone hydrochloride, a so-called “opioid antagonist,” is used for the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses. In high doses, opioids can cause breathing to slow or stop. Someone who has overdosed can become sleepy and unresponsive to others’ voice or touch, and also will exhibit pinpoint pupils. That’s when naloxone should be used via nasal spray or injection. It binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, temporarily reversing the overdose. It can be purchased under the brand name Narcan at California pharmacies without a prescription, and is covered by most major insurance plans. The Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition provides free Narcan and trainings to community members, as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, naloxone distributed via opioid overdose-prevention programs reversed 10,000 overdoses between 1996 and 2010.