Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and allow time for medical help to arrive.
Since June 2016, naloxone has been available for free through pharmacies, community organizations and provincial correctional facilities. This was in response to the opioid crisis, and in particular, the increase in overdose deaths. Fentanyl has been linked to many of these overdose deaths.
Fentanyl is an opioid that is prescribed as a skin patch. It is 100 times more powerful than morphine and used to treat severe pain. Most street fentanyl in Canada is produced illegally as a powder. It is increasingly found in street drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, and used to make tablets that look like prescription medications. Many overdoses have occurred because people did not know that what they were taking was contaminated with fentanyl.
If you or someone you know uses opioids or other street drugs, it is a good idea to have a naloxone kit.
A person may have overdosed if:
If someone is overdosing, call 911 right away! You can then use your naloxone kit while you wait for medical help.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. This means it blocks the effects of opioids, such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone.It can restore normal breathing to a person whose breathing has shallowed or stopped as a result of an overdose.
Naloxone is a relatively safe drug. Giving naloxone to a person that is unconscious because of a non-opioid overdose is unlikely to cause harm. However, naloxone will not reverse overdoses that are caused by non-opioid drugs (e.g., overdoses caused by alcohol or cocaine).
Trade names include:
Preventing Opioid Overdose © 2016 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Portico)
About opioids © 2017 Government of Canada
Frequently Asked Questions: Access to naloxone in Canada © 2017 Government of Canada
Opioid crisis in Canada © 2018 Government of Canada
Opioid overdose reversal with naloxone © 2018 National Institute on Drug Abuse
What is fentanyl? © 2017 Royal Canadian Mounted Police
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