What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is sometimes referred to by its brand names, Narcan® and Evzio®. Naloxone can be used as an injectible, a nasal spray (Narcan®), or an autoinjector (Evzio®).
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it works to reverse opioid overdoses by binding to and blocking the opioid receptors in the body. Naloxone may take between 2 to 5 minutes to go into effect and lasts about half an hour to an hour. Multiple doses may be required if the overdose event lasts longer than the dosage of naloxone, and it is possible to slip back into overdose after the effects of naloxone wear off. Additionally, due to the antagonist factor of naloxone, it is possible for a person to go into immediate withdrawal. This is why it is important to call 9-1-1 in the case of an overdose, even if naloxone has been used.
Why is Naloxone Important?
According to the 2018 advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, increasing access to naloxone has been shown to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in communities. Knowing how to use naloxone and having it on hand can save somebody's life. The number of overdoses and deaths due to overdose continues to rise in the United States, and naloxone allows anyone to play a key part in addressing the epidemic. Naloxone saves lives and so many lives can be saved if anyone who is at risk or knows somebody who is at risk keeps naloxone on hand.
Who Should Have Naloxone?
- People at risk of overdose
- People who take a prescription opioid
- People who use heroin
- People who use fentanyl or fentanyl analogues
- People who are taking opioids and benzodiazepines
- People with a history of Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
- People with a history of overdose
- Providers who interact regularly with someone at risk of opioid overdose
- Including Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), alcohol, and other drug treatment providers
- Social service and community programs that interact with people at risk of overdose
- Family and friends of people at risk of opioid overdose
What are the Legal Risks of Naloxone?
Oregon has a Good Samaritan Law (PDF, 25Kb) which states that if you call 9-1-1 for someone experiencing an overdose, you and the person overdosing are protected from arrest or prosecution for drug-related charges or parole/probation violations related to drug possession.
Currently, Oregon law HB 3440 (PDF, 60.6 Kb) allows social service agencies and their employees to administer naloxone to an individual who appears to be experiencing an overdose, even if that naloxone was not prescribed directly to the employee. Additionally, the law protects these agencies and their employees from any civil liability.
Under this same law, prescribers are protected against civil liability for prescribing, administering, or distributing naloxone. This is intended to increase co-prescribing of naloxone by prescribers and allow for expanded prescriptions from pharmacists to the general public and agencies in need of naloxone.
Naloxone Educational Resources
- Evzio information
- Oregon Health Authority
- Oregon Health Authority Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Naloxone (PDF, 417Kb)
- SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (PDF, 361Kb)
- Includes: Facts for community members, Five essential steps for first responders, Information for prescribers, Safety advice for patients and family members, and Recovering from opioid overdose
- Stay Safe Oregon
- Includes Naloxone training videos and further reading about Naloxone