Naloxone, also known as Narcan, can temporarily reverses the effects of opioids like Heroin, OxyContin, Fentanyl and Percocets. Naloxone binds to the receptors that opioids would usually bind with, serving as an antagonist to the opioids efficacy in your brain/body. Once the drug has been injected intravenously or ingested via nasal spray it goes to work reversing not only the extremely pleasurable painkilling benefits of opioids, but more importantly it stops you from overdosing and dying. Brilliant, I know!
“Unlike something like alcohol, which is complicated and goes everywhere water does, opioids are really simple,” Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, said. “They bind to a receptor in the brain, so you know exactly where they are. The naloxone goes to that same receptor, forces the opioids out of the receptor, and binds to the receptor itself.”
This drug can be easily prescribed by a local family doctor or even at a walk-in clinic, and can be not only prescribed to the drug user but their friends and loved ones. To sweeten the deal even further, a life-saving dose of Naloxone can be purchased for around $30, a fairly inexpensive life saving tool one might say.
Over the past several years, states have taken more and more steps to relax the laws surrounding naloxone. Under normal circumstances, naloxone would be a prescription drug that only doctors can prescribe. But states have taken several kinds of measures to expand its availability, as outlined by Corey Davis, deputy director of the Network for Public Health Law, as of June 2015:
Third-party prescriptions: In 38 states, individuals can ask doctors to prescribe naloxone to other people who are at risk of an overdose. For example, a brother might ask for a naloxone prescription so he can give it to his sister who’s addicted to heroin.
Prescribing by standing order: In 28 states, groups can distribute naloxone to others under specific criteria. For example, a public health agency could distribute the drug to people who attend an overdose rescue training program that teaches them how to apply the drug to someone who is overdosing.
Equipping first responders with naloxone: In many states, first responders like police and firefighters carry naloxone, so they can administer it to people when they first respond to a 911 call. Since an overdose can turn deadly or cause brain damage quite quickly, the minutes saved from not having to wait for an ambulance can literally save lives.