Updated: Feb 16, 2019
What is Naloxone?
N.B.: Information obtained from The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS)
Naloxone is a medication that works almost immediately to reverse opiate overdose. Naloxone is currently a prescription drug, but is not a controlled substance. It has few known adverse effects, no potential for abuse, and can be rapidly administered through intramuscular injection or nasal spray. While most professional first responders and emergency departments are equipped with naloxone, emergency service providers may not arrive in time to revive overdose victims. Trained and equipped bystanders such as friends, family and other non-health care providers (lay people) and drug users themselves can effectively respond and reverse an opioid overdose. Given the success of bystander naloxone programs, the CDC and the World Health Organization have recommended expanding the availability of naloxone to lay people.
Laws and Regulations
Laws are currently in place that support making naloxone more readily available. For example, California Civil Code Section 1714.22 (Statutes of 2013, Chapter 707, Sec. 1) (PDF) eliminates civil and criminal liability for: 1) licensed health care providers that prescribe naloxone and issue standing orders for the distribution of naloxone, and 2) individuals that administer naloxone to someone suspected of experiencing an overdose after receiving it along with required training. This law took effect on January 1, 2014.
How to Get Naloxone
The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is providing free naloxone to organizations and entities eligible to administer or distribute naloxone through the California Public Health standing order, and to individuals with a valid prescription. Find out more by visiting DHCS, Naloxone Distribution Project.
Naloxone (Narcan) can also be obtained directly from a pharmacy or the manufacturer (Adapt Pharma), or from local organizations that have a Naloxone distribution system in place (e.g. harm reduction services).