Life-Saving Narcan®: What It Does and Why You Need It

Life-saving narcan: what it does and why you need it

Opioids are effective pain relievers when used safely. However, opioid overdoses can occur at any time — many happen accidentally and at home. Whether you’re a caregiver or a concerned loved one, Narcan is a life-saving treatment option to consider.

What Does Narcan Do?

Narcan is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Also known as naloxone, it’s available as a prepackaged nasal spray or an injectable, which should be administered into the muscle, a vein or under the skin. This opioid antagonist blocks certain receptors, preventing opioids from binding to them and rapidly improving symptoms.

If you suspect an opioid overdose, you should use Narcan immediately. Look for physical signs of misuse, such as:

  • Drowsiness, fatigue and unresponsiveness.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Slow or shallow breathing.
  • Blue or purple lips and fingernails.

Why Do People Use Narcan?

From police officers to first responders, many people use Narcan for its life-saving qualities. Narcan is:

  • Fast-acting: Narcan begins working as soon as you give it. Your recipient may regain responsiveness within minutes.
  • Easy to use: This medication helps you protect the people you care about, even without formal training. Your health care provider or pharmacist can explain how to administer it and how much you should give.
  • Accessible: You can find Narcan at most pharmacies. If you’re in San Francisco, you can also get it for free from public health groups like the Harm Reduction Center.

What Do You Do After Using Narcan?

Although Narcan can counteract an opioid overdose’s symptoms for 30 to 90 minutes, some opioids stay in the body for longer. After giving naloxone, you should always call 911 so your loved one can receive immediate medical care. Take these additional precautionary measures:

  • Administer more Narcan as necessary for stronger opioids.
  • Monitor your loved one’s condition until help arrives. You should observe them for two hours following your last injection or spray.
  • Watch for side effects or opioid withdrawal symptoms, such as increased heart rate, sweating and nausea.

Learn More About Life-Saving Narcan and Other Treatments

You can rely on Narcan during emergencies, and you can count on BAART Programs anytime. We offer individualized, comprehensive and affordable medication-assisted treatments to patients throughout California and other states. With 24-hour treatment programs available, we’ll be there when you need us. Contact us today to learn more about our services and values.

Narcan is typically reserved for urgent situations. Always consult your physician or a trained medical professional before carrying or using it.

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Medically Reviewed By:

BAART Clinical Team

BAART Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at BAART Programs is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. BAART is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing opioid addiction treatment services to the San Francisco Bay Area and greater United States since 1977.