Opioids are strong pain medicines. Examples include hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine. Heroin is an example of an illegal opioid. Taking too much of an opioid can cause death. An overdose is an emergency.
Naloxone is a medicine used to treat an opioid overdose. If you take it or if someone gives it to you soon enough after an overdose, it can save your life.
Naloxone comes in a rescue kit you can carry with you. You may hear it called a Narcan kit for short.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about a naloxone rescue kit. Your doctor or pharmacist can show you how to use it. You can get a naloxone rescue kit without a prescription at most drugstores.
When is naloxone used?
Naloxone is used when a person shows signs of an opioid overdose. A person may have overdosed if he or she is:
Sleepy or hard to wake up.
Not breathing normally.
If someone appears to have overdosed, call 911. A drug overdose is an emergency.
Read and carefully follow the directions in the kit on how to give naloxone. If you think you or someone else may have overdosed but you're not sure, it's okay to use the kit anyway.
Make sure your family and friends know about these signs of an overdose.
Keep your rescue kit with you always. You never know when you might need it.
Always go to the emergency room after using naloxone. Doctors will want to make sure the overdose has been reversed.
What's in a naloxone kit?
Rescue kits come with instructions.
The rescue kit may also contain:
Syringes and needles.
A nasal adapter for the syringes.
A separate nasal spray device.
Rescue kits include two doses because overdose symptoms may return a few minutes after the first dose from the rescue kit is given.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine