What is Naloxone?

In the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic in the United States a life-saving drug is being used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone, also known as Narcan or Evzio®, is a medication used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose.


Naloxone works by counteracting life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. The drug allows the overdose victim to breathe normally until they can receive proper medical attention.


The life-saving drug is either injected into a muscle, under the skin, into a vein through an IV, or sprayed into the nose. It can be administered by a healthcare provider, emergency medical provider, or a family member or caregiver trained to properly give the medication.


Even if someone is not sure if an opioid overdose has happened, naloxone can be given to an unresponsive person. The drug only works if a person has opioids in their system and has no effect if opioids are absent, which takes away the potential for abuse of naloxone.


Although naloxone reverses the effects of an overdose, medical attention is still required after it is administered. It is a temporary drug that wears off in 20 to 90 minutes, enough time to help someone experiencing an overdose and get them proper medical attention, which can safe their life.


The workers’ compensation industry is not immune to overdose issues and has also seen naloxone utilization increase recently. This is consistent with the growing concern for overdose in the overall healthcare profession. Whether or not this drug should be used in this industry is a discussion for another time but it is important to be aware of the increase in utilization and added costs associated with naloxone.


While naloxone may help save the life of someone that overdoses on opioids, there is still the chance of a second overdose. A new study shows almost all those who overdose on prescription opioids, continue to receive prescriptions for the same painkillers. Find out how many people are getting the same medication in our next KeyScripts blog post.