Narcan is a popular word in the addiction treatment community, but not everyone understands what this substance is, or how it works. Perhaps you have heard someone make a reference to Narcan before, but you aren’t exactly sure what it is. If you or a loved one lives with an addiction to an opiate, understanding what this drug is, how it works, and how to use it can literally be life-saving.

So, what is Narcan?

As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, Narcan is a brand name of the drug naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose. This drug is effective because it is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it attaches to opioid receptors and then reverses or blocks the effects of these drugs on the body. When given to someone who is overdosing, Narcan can help the person to begin breathing normally again when high doses of opioid drugs like heroin or fentanyl have slowed or stopped their breathing.

Narcan is a nasal spray version of naloxone, meaning it can be easily administered to reverse an opioid overdose.

The makers of the product indicate that it should be used in cases of overdose or suspected overdose, when a person shows signs such as breathing problems, extreme sleepiness, or lack of responsiveness. While Narcan is a prescription medication, all states have laws that allow people to obtain this drug from a pharmacist without having a written prescription from a doctor. Anyone who needs to access Narcan, whether for themselves or a loved one, can simply go to a pharmacy and request to buy it.

Sometimes, community organizations like treatment centers or public health clinics will offer trainings on how to use Narcan and administer Narcan kits for free. In many cases, Narcan is covered by insurance to make it more affordable and accessible for those who need it.

How is Narcan used?

As a nasal spray version of naloxone, Narcan is designed to be easy-to-use, so even non-medical personnel can administer it to a loved one in case of emergency. Narcan is needle-free and does not require assembly. A bystander, relative, or friend can easily administer Narcan by spraying it into one nostril while a person is on their back.

Narcan Q&A

The following questions and answers can help you to get a better understanding of how to use Narcan, as well as how it can help in the case of an overdose:

Does a person still need to go to the hospital if they are revived with Narcan?

Yes, as Narcan does not take the place of emergency medical care from a professional. Even if a person is revived with Narcan, they still need follow up care in a hospital to ensure there are no further complications from the opioid overdose.

How much does Narcan cost?

According to the makers of the drug, nearly all insurances cover Narcan. Almost half of them offer the product with no copay, and the majority offer it with a copay of $20 or under.

How can I get Narcan?

Simply go to your pharmacy and request to purchase it. The drug is available at major pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. Narcan is generally very accessible, learn more about how you can get Narcan.

Does a person need to go to treatment after overdosing and being treated with Narcan?

Yes. Even if a person responds to Narcan treatment and is cleared by emergency medical providers, overdose remedies cannot take the place of addiction treatment. While experiencing an overdose can be a shocking and eye-opening experience, that alone is not enough to equip someone with the coping skills to overcome addiction.

Treatment Options

If you or a loved one is living with an opioid addiction, iRecoveryUSA is here to help. We offer comprehensive opioid addiction treatment in a 100% virtual setting via our telehealth app. Contact us today to learn more.