What is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication used to treat an opioid overdose. Naloxone works by reversing the effects of opioids by temporarily binding to the same brain receptors as opioids.

What is an opioid?
Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Learn More.

Examples of Opioids:

  • Morphine(MS Contin®)
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Norco®) Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
  • Oxycodone(Percocet®, OxyContin®)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic®)
  • Buprenorphine(Subutex®)
  • Methadone
  • Heroin

What are the risk factors for an overdose?

  • Mixing opioids with certain other medicines, illegal drugs, or with alcohol
  • Taking opioids after a period of not being on them (recent release from prison/jail, discharge from an opioid “detox” program)
  • Taking an opioid called methadone
  • Taking high doses of opioids
  • Previous opioid overdose
  • Having kidney, liver, or breathing problems

What are the signs of an overdose?

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Blue or gray lips and fingernails
  • Pale and/or moist skin
  • Unable to wake up or respond

How do I respond when someone has an overdose?

Step 1. Call 911.

Step 2. Follow the 911 dispatcher’s instructions or perform rescue breathing if comfortable doing so.

Step 3. Give Naloxone.

Step 4. Give a second dose of Naloxone in 2 to 5 minutes if there is no response to the first dose.

How do I perform rescue breathing?

The key components of rescue breathing include the following:

Step 1. Make sure nothing is in the individual’s mouth.

Step 2. Tilt the head back, lift chin, and pinch nose shut.

Step 3. Give one slow breath every 5 seconds; chest should rise.

Where can I get Naloxone in the State of South Carolina?

Naloxone is available from pharmacies choosing to participate in its distribution pursuant to the Joint Protocol. You may contact your local pharmacy to determine whether it is currently dispensing Naloxone without a written prescription or standing order from a prescriber.

As the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy receives notice from pharmacies choosing to dispense Naloxone without a prescription or standing order, it will add these pharmacies to this website.

How do I administer Naloxone safely?

Instructional Sheets:

How to administer intramuscular Naloxone
How to administer intranasal Naloxone
How to administer intramuscular Naloxone (en Español)
How to administer intranasal Naloxone (en Español)

Instructional Videos:

How administer intramuscular Naloxone
How to administer intranasal Naloxone
How to administer the Naloxone auto-injector

Does Naloxone only work for overdose cases caused by opioids?
Yes. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids, such as heroin, methadone, morphine, opium, codeine, or hydrocodone. It does not reverse the effects of drugs such as benzodiazepines (drugs including diazepam, midazolam, or alprazolam), antihistamines (like pheniramine or phenergan), alcohol, or other sedatives (drugs such as phenobarbital) or stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Can Naloxone expire?
Naloxone can expire. It can also become less effective over time or after being exposed to too much cold, heat or sunlight. Expired Naloxone is not harmful, but it has a reduced ability to reverse an overdose. To extend the lifetime of Naloxone, it should be stored in a dark and dry place at room temperature.

Why are people who use Naloxone for overdose reversal being asked to provide information about their experience?
The responses, which are anonymous and confidential, provide a better understanding of the way Naloxone is being used in communities across SC and will help get more Naloxone to the people who need it.