Naloxone (naloxone HCL, Narcan®, Evzio®) is an FDA-approved medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose by blocking receptors in the brain and restoring breathing.
Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Learn More.

Examples of Opioids:

Morphine(MS Contin®)
Codeine
Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Norco®) Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
Oxycodone(Percocet®, OxyContin®)
Oxymorphone (Opana®)
Fentanyl (Duragesic®)
Buprenorphine(Subutex®)
Methadone
Heroin

In 2018, United States Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, issued a public health advisory emphasizing the importance of naloxone in savings lives. In this advisory, he recommended the following groups of people carry naloxone and know how to use it:

  • Individuals taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for the management of chronic pain
  • Individuals taking prescription opioids concurrently with alcohol or sedating medications (i.e. benzodiazepines)
  • Individuals misusing prescription opioids or using illicit opioids such as heroin
  • Individuals with a history of opioid use disorder
  • Individuals completing opioid detoxification
  • Individuals recently discharged from emergency medical care following an opioid overdose
  • Individuals recently released from incarceration with a history of opioid use disorder
  • Family and friends of people who have opioid use disorder
  • Community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose

Signs may include unresponsiveness, slow or shallow breathing, pinpoint (constricted) pupils, blue fingernails or lips, vomiting, or gurgling noises.

Mixing opioids with certain other medicines, illegal drugs, or with alcohol
Taking opioids after a period of not being on them (recent release from prison/jail, discharge from an opioid “detox” program)
Taking an opioid called methadone
Taking high doses of opioids
Previous opioid overdose
Having kidney, liver, or breathing problems

Learn how to use naloxone here.

No. Naloxone only reverses the effects of opioids. Examples of opioids include hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and heroin. However, if an opioid overdose also involved other substances such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, naloxone may help. Naloxone will have no effect on an individual if an opioid is not present in their system.
Naloxone is a generally safe medication but may cause some individuals to experience withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include confusion, sweating, vomiting, and irritability. Rarely do individuals become combative.
Naloxone can expire. It can also become less effective over time or after being exposed to too much cold, heat or sunlight. Expired naloxone is not harmful, but it has a reduced ability to reverse an overdose. To extend the lifetime of naloxone, it should be stored in a dark and dry place at room temperature.
No. However, if the individual is dependent on opioids, they may experience increased withdrawal symptoms with repeated doses of naloxone.
Naloxone is a generally safe medication but may cause some individuals to experience withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include confusion, sweating, vomiting, and irritability. Rarely do individuals become combative.
No, naloxone is non-addictive and has no potential for abuse.
Yes. In some cases, fentanyl may be so potent that multiple doses of naloxone are required. Incidental skin exposure to fentanyl is very unlikely to harm you. If you believe you may have come in contact with fentanyl, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you can—especially before eating or touching your mouth or nose (i.e., mucous membranes).
If it is the only thing available, yes. Like most medications, the efficacy of naloxone may begin to decline past the expiration date and should be replaced. It is also important to store naloxone at room temperature (59° to 77° F) and protected from direct light.