What is an Opioid Antagonist – How can it save your life?
An opioid antagonist is a medication that can counteract the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. This could be an overdose of a legal opioid drug or an illegal drug such as heroin.
How does it work from a clinical perspective?
The term opiate antagonist or opioid antagonist is a medication that can block opioid receptors found naturally in the body. When the opioid antagonist binds to the opioid receptors it prevents other drugs such as opiates or heroin from binding and producing its effects on these receptors.
What is Naloxone?
Narcan®, also known by the generic name of naloxone, is an opioid antagonist and can be lifesaving when given immediately to someone who is experiencing a heroin or opioid-related overdose. Naloxone, when administered, can wear off in 30-90 minutes so it is crucial that despite administrating the medication that emergency medical assistance or 911 is contacted so the person experiencing the overdose can continue to receive the necessary treatment.
How can you get this medication?
You can obtain naloxone for yourself, a family member or friend. You can obtain naloxone and have it on hand in case of an opiate-related overdose by any of the following methods:
- Your doctor can prescribe or dispense an opioid antagonist to you or to your family member or friend who is at risk of an opioid overdose
- Your pharmacy may dispense naloxone to you without a prescription. Please contact your pharmacy to determine if they are offering naloxone without a prescription.
Naloxone can be administered by many different routes. It can be injected in the vein (intravenous), muscle (intramuscular), under the skin (subcutaneous) or into the nose (intranasal). Please talk with your pharmacist, or doctor to determine which is right for you and discuss with them about any potential health impacts of utilizing naloxone on yourself or someone else experiencing an opioid-related overdose.