What is naloxone and how does it work?

Naloxone is a life-saving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications. Naloxone is safe and easy to use, works almost immediately, and is not addictive. Naloxone has very few negative effects and has no effect if opioids are not in a person’s system.

By learning where you can get naloxone and when you should administer it, you can be ready to save a life. Naloxone comes in several forms, but the most common is a single-use nose spray called Narcan:

  • NARCAN Information And Instructions For Use

  • Narcan may take several minutes to kick in – up to 2 to 3 minutes when administered nasally.

  • It may take two or more doses of Narcan to revive someone if they have ingested a large quantity of fentanyl.

  • Naloxone only works if there are opioids involved with the overdose. It will not reverse an overdose of cocaine, methamphetamine, benzos, alcohol, or other non-opioid drugs; however, administering it will not harm someone who is overdosing on a non-opioid drug.


As of this year, nasal Naloxone is now considered an over-the-counter drug nationwide, so you can get your own nasal Naloxone from any pharmacy without a prescription. Depending on individual insurance coverage, nasal Naloxone may cost between $45-145 at the pharmacy.

To make nasal Naloxone more widely accessible, many states and non-profit organizations subsidize nasal Naloxone to make this life-saving drug available for free. If you do not have the financial resources to purchase nasal Naloxone, you can still access it at reduced or no cost, thanks to these organizations.


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