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Fast facts about naloxone



NIDA/Photographer: Josie Anderson; NIDA/Photographer: Rebecca Dubois

Have you heard of naloxone? Also known by the brand name Narcan and RiVive, it’s a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter use. The National Safety Council encourages everyone to include the product in their first aid kits when it becomes available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says naloxone “can be given safely to people of all ages, from infants to older adults. This includes an adolescent or young adult who may have unintentionally taken an opioid.”

However, “Naloxone is a temporary treatment. More than one dose might be needed under some circumstances.”

How can you tell if someone is experiencing an overdose? The CDC says to look for:

  • Small pupils
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Limp body
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin

If someone experiences an overdose in front of you, the CDC says to follow these steps:

  • Call 911.
  • Administer naloxone if you have access to it. Don’t wait for paramedics to arrive before giving naloxone.
  • Keep the person awake and breathing.
  • Position the person on their side to prevent choking.
  • Stay with the person until first responders arrive.

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