Narcan is a commonly used treatment for life-threatening opioid overdoses. It is an FDA-approved called naloxone which is an opioid antagonist that binds to the body’s opioid receptors to quickly reverse the effects of opioids.

Signs of an opioid overdose can include:

  • Slow or stopped breathing
  • Low heart rate or low blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting

Narcan is administered by first responders or friends, family, and strangers that keep it on hand. If Narcan is administered to someone, make sure they seek medical attention right away.

How Does Narcan Work?

Narcan is commonly used as a spray inside of the nose, but it can also be injected into someone’s muscle, under the skin, or into the vein in other circumstances. Narcan spray is usually kept on hand by the caregivers of patients who have been prescribed strong doses of opioid drugs like oxycodone, methadone, or fentanyl in case of an accidental overdose.

When it is administered, Narcan nasal spray reverses the effects of opioids after one or more doses. This means that not everyone is affected the same by it, and some may need several doses to reverse the effects of their overdose. If someone needs more than one dose, a new dose is given to them in alternating nostrils every two or three minutes until they become responsive again.

Remember that just because the person becomes responsive doesn’t mean that they are fully okay. The effects of Narcan only last about 30-90 minutes, which is an incredibly short time frame. It is of the utmost importance that they seek medical attention as soon as they are conscious. There could still be a high dose of opioids in their system, and if the Narcan wears off before they get help, they could slip back into their overdose. Even if Narcan is administered to someone who was awake during an overdose, it is still crucial that they get medical help as soon as they can.

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Narcan Side Effects

For as lifesaving as it is, it is uncommon for Narcan to have serious side effects. Some people have allergic reactions like hives, or swelling of the lips, tongue, and face. Narcan blocks the effects of opioids in the body, so someone could also experience opioid withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach or body pains
  • Fever or chills
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Itchiness

Narcan can save somebody’s life. Keeping at least two doses on hand can help a loved one in need, or even a stranger. Remember, just because somebody becomes responsive to Narcan does not mean they are okay. If someone is having an overdose and Narcan is administered, contact 911 right away.