News & ExpertsMedications & DrugsNarcan: What Is It and How Did it Revive Demi Lovato?

Narcan: What Is It and How Did it Revive Demi Lovato?

When news broke that Demi Lovato overdosed on heroin, people were in shock. The singer had been sober for six years. It was only when she released her song ‘Sober’ in June that we were aware that she had relapsed. Thankfully, Demi Lovato is now stable after being hospitalized. Narcan is part of the reason why Demi is stable, and was administered to her before she was rushed off to the hospital.

What is Narcan?
Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, which is a medication given to people who have overdosed on narcotics. It blocks the effects of drugs made from opium or opioids. Some of these include: heroin, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and codeine.

How to use Narcan
Narcan is an inhalable form of the naloxone drug. It is a nasal spray that does not require any training to administer. It is sprayed into one nostril as the person lies on their back. Make sure to place one hand under the person’s chin while tilting his or her head back to administer the medicine. If the person does not wake up to voice, touch, or start breathing normally, another dose may be given in the opposite nostril. Narcan can be dosed every two to three minutes. A person cannot overdose on Narcan, so it can be administered many times without risk. Narcan is only temporary, so it’s very important to call for emergency medical assistance after the first dose is given. According to its website, “it is the only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose.”

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How does it work?
Naloxone travels thorough the body to the brain and attaches to the receptor sites that the opioid molecules have occupied. The medication pushes the opioid molecules to the side as it binds to the receptors. During this process, the naloxone can quickly reverse the affects of the overdose, specifically respiratory depression.

Where can you get Narcan?
Since the opioid epidemic has become bigger than ever, Narcan is now more readily available than it used to be. Narcan can be purchased at pharmacies and certain drug stores, such as Walgreens and CVS. Naloxone is available in most states without a prescription, but some states require one. If you live in a state where a prescription is required, talk to your primary care physician.

About 2.1 million people in the U.S. have some type of opioid use disorder. In 2010, overdose deaths from prescription and illicit drugs was 21,089. In 2016, that number doubled to 42,249. Having access to naloxone can save somebody’s life. On April 5th, 2018, Surgeon General Adams issued the first Surgeon General’s Advisory in 13 years. This advisory was about naloxone and opioid overdose. In the advisory he stated, “knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.” Currently, there are two FDA-approved naloxone products, which are Narcan and Evzio. With 115 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose, and 77 percent of opioid overdoses occurring outside of a medical setting, it is important now more than ever that people are aware of and have access to naloxone. If you saw someone who couldn’t breathe, you would give them CPR. What if you saw that same person overdosing? What would you do then? Educating ourselves on the benefits of having naloxone is the difference between life or death for a loved one, or even a stranger. As the Surgeon General said: BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE.


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