Naloxone

Updated on March 03, 2020

An overdose is a life-threatening medical emergency. Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, but it does not cure an overdose. If anyone suspects or witnesses a person experiencing a drug overdose, call 911 and administer naloxone, even if the drug consumed is unknown. Example of opioids include heroin, morphine, codeine, Percocet, methadone, fentanyl, carfentanil, etc.

Being able to recognize the signs of an overdose quickly and having a naloxone kit can save a life. Naloxone can buy time while paramedics are en route. Take-home naloxone kits do not replace the need for emergency care or minimize the importance of calling 911. 

Effects of Naloxone

In an opioid overdose, a person's breathing slows down or stops. Naloxone blocks the effect of opioids on the brain. It temporarily reverses these effects on a person's breathing. Giving naloxone can prevent death or brain damage from lack of oxygen.

Naloxone will only work on opioid-related overdoses. It is important to remember that a lot of other drugs are being mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil. If the person has used any drugs and is showing signs of an opioid overdose call 911 and give naloxone.

How long does naloxone take to work?

Once given, naloxone will start to work in approximately 2-3 minutes.

Naloxone stays active in the body for up to 2 hours but it is important to know that most opioids stay active in the body longer than 2 hours! If the opioid is still in the body after the naloxone wears off, the overdose can return!

This is why it is so important to call 911 in every overdose situation!

Limitations 

Giving naloxone to someone that is unconscious because of a non-opioid overdose is unlikely to cause more harm. Overdoses are life-threatening. Giving naloxone is better than not administering it.

The only reason to not give naloxone to someone who is experiencing an overdose is if the person is known to have a life-threatening allergy to naloxone or any of the ingredients. If allergies are unknown (which is likely the case when responding to medical emergencies), give naloxone.

Naloxone is safe for all ages. An opioid overdose is a life-threatening situation, which can be temporarily reversed by naloxone, and for that reason, naloxone can be given regardless of age, if the person is pregnant or lactating and if they have medical conditions such as heart, respiratory, liver or kidney disease.

For more information about using naloxone, see below:

Take-Home Naloxone Kits

 Naloxone kit

In Ontario, naloxone is available for free through programs like Peer Overdose Prevention Program (POPP). It is available to persons who could be at risk of an overdose and to people who could help someone who is overdosing. When you get your kit, you will also receive training on overdose prevention, recognizing an overdose and how to respond. Below is a list of places where you can get a free naloxone kit in Ottawa:

Ottawa Public Health's Site Needle & Syringe Program

Free kits and training available for clients and their family or friends.

  • Site Office
    • Located on 179 Clarence St (in the Byward Market)
    • Available 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday
  • Mobile Site Van provides service throughout the City of Ottawa
    • Available 5 to 11:30 pm, 7 days a week
    • Telephone number: 613-232-3232
  • For more information on these services visit Harm Reduction Services in Ottawa.

 Local Ottawa Pharmacies

Get a free kit and training at a participating pharmacy near you by:

  • Calling the Drug and Alcohol Helpline @ 1-800-565-8603.  
  • Checking this list of pharmacies that have naloxone. This list is managed by the Ministry of Health and Longterm Care. Should a pharmacy be missing from the list, please contact the Ministry

Once you have located a pharmacy, Ottawa Public Health suggests you call ahead to make sure that they currently have naloxone available.

Online Training

NaloxoneCare.com is an online learning portal to help individuals learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and how to give naloxone. You can get a free nasal naloxone kit once the training is completed.

St John's Ambulance and Sobeys Pharmacy Orleans

Free monthly opioid awareness and naloxone training sessions.

  • Available the 1st Wednesday of each month from 12 noon to 1 pm
  • Located on St John Ambulance (1050 Morrison Drive)
  • To register, send an email to info.ottawa@sja.ca.

The Ottawa Hospital

Training and naloxone kits available for registered patients at risk of overdose.  

Sandy Hill Community Health Centre's Oasis Overdose Prevention Service

Naloxone kits available through walk-in services Monday-Friday.

  • Located on 221 Nelson Street, 1st floor
  • Telephone number: 613 569-3488

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