Naloxone (brand names Narcan and Kloxxado) saves lives in opioid overdose. But how can you get naloxone, so that you’re ready if the need arises?
Naloxone is the generic name for a medication we commonly know as Narcan or Kloxxado. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can help stop opioid overdoses and is available in all fifty states. It comes in a single nasal spray and injectable form.
Naloxone works by dislodging opioids from the opioid receptors in the brain and blocking their effects. This can reverse an overdose and help someone struggling with breathing or not breathing at all due to opioids. Depending on the strength of the opioid and the person’s reaction to it, they may need more than one dose of naloxone to counter the opioids. Once naloxone has been administered, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention, as the naloxone can wear off while the opioid is still active in the person’s body.
If naloxone is such a lifesaver in the opioid epidemic, why is it not readily available?
- Shortages of naloxone supplies are a common problem with the uptick in opioid use.
- Certain states and counties have rules about who can prescribe/distribute Naloxone. For locations where overdose is most often caused by prescription drugs, you would more commonly see a prescriber providing naloxone. In locations where we see overdoses primarily caused by fentanyl and heroin, we often see more distribution of naloxone happening at the community level.
Where can I get Narcan (naloxone)?
- Get it at the pharmacy. Most common pharmacies (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid) do carry naloxone (often as Narcan or Kloxxado). You can purchase it there by paying out of pocket. Ask at the pharmacy if they have any programs that could help cut costs or even allow you to obtain it for free. Discount programs like GoodRx can help to cut costs.
- Talk with your doctor. If you have a substance use disorder or you know someone that does, have an open conversation with your healthcare provider. They could write you a prescription for naloxone. Most insurances that cover medication, including Medicaid and Medicare, offer coverage for naloxone.
- Contact your local county. Some states will mail naloxone to you if you request it. Keep in mind that they might have requirements before they send it out (like requiring you to take an online lesson about how to use it). They also might have a program allowing you to obtain naloxone for free from a certain pharmacy.
- Vending machines. Some states have created vending machines to dispense free naloxone. These are mostly found in public libraries and on college campuses. Do an internet search for “naloxone vending machine” in your area.
- Look in your community. Do an internet search for “Harm reduction in the city of…” or “Syringe exchange in the city of…” These organizations may provide naloxone. Even if they don’t, they would be great resources on how to obtain Naloxone in your specific area.
- NEXT Distro. NEXT Distro is a great resource. It covers many states and will ship out naloxone or direct you to the closest resource center to obtain naloxone and other harm-reduction supplies.
We hear from members all the time, telling us that the naloxone they got after joining our program saved a life. Anyone who is actively using opioids or knows someone that does should have naloxone (like a Narcan kit) on standby at all times. Even if you don’t think you have loved ones who use opioids, it’s good to have naloxone. You never know when you might cross a situation where it could be used. Naloxone is imperative in combatting the opioid overdose epidemic and saving lives.