What Drugs Does Narcan Not Reverse?

The Narcan antidote isn’t new, but it has gained an increasing amount of attention as the opioid epidemic has become more impactful to communities around the U.S. People often wonder what the Narcan antidote is, and what drugs it works on, as well as what drugs Narcan doesn’t reverse. So, what drugs does Narcan not reverse and what does it work on?

Narcan Antidote | What Drugs Does Narcan Not Reverse?
Narcan is a brand-name, prescription nasal spray with the generic name naloxone. It’s intended to be given to people who have overdosed on opioids as a way to reverse the overdose and stop the effects of the drugs.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription pain relievers, as well as heroin.

Some of the most commonly abused prescription opioids include:

  • OxyContin
  • Vicodin
  • Codeine
  • Dilaudid
  • Demerol
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Norco

These aren’t all of the prescription opioids, but are some of the ones that are frequently abused and become addictive.

Narcan is an opioid antagonist. This means that it knocks the opioid drugs out of certain receptors they bind to in the central nervous system, stopping their effects, including respiratory depression. Narcan is a nasal spray, and generic naloxone is also available in injectable form.

Narcan and other forms of naloxone are viewed as safe and effective, as well as a key life-saving protection in the opioid epidemic. If someone takes Narcan, they may then go through immediate withdrawal symptoms, but this isn’t deadly. If Narcan is taken and a person isn’t on opioids, nothing will happen, and there’s no potential for abuse or addiction with its use.

Narcan can also be effective to stop the effects of a fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl is an incredibly potent opioid that’s been flooding the market in recent years and is responsible for a lot of the opioid overdose deaths that occur.

As was touched on above, Narcan can also be used to stop the effects of a heroin overdose. What’s important, however, is for loved ones and caregivers of people addicted to opioids to be able to recognize the symptoms of an overdose, because Narcan has to be administered very quickly to prevent brain injury and death.

Since Narcan is an opioid antagonist, it only reverses the effects of opioids. This means that if someone overdoses on any other kind of drug, including benzodiazepines or any kind of stimulant, it’s not going to reverse the effects. It works specifically on opioids only. It’s not a reversal medicine for all types of drug overdoses, and it’s important for people to realize that.

If someone were to mix substances, for example, opioids and benzodiazepines like Xanax, the Narcan would reverse the effects of only the opioids and not the benzos.

While Narcan doesn’t reverse the effects of drugs outside of opioids, it’s starting to become common for public health officials recommend anyone who uses drugs to have access to Narcan. This is because so many drugs, including drugs like Xanax, that are purchased on the streets have fentanyl added in, without the knowledge of the person using the drugs. This is why so many accidental deaths occur, and if a drug has been mixed with fentanyl, Narcan can reverse the overdose.

What Drugs Does Narcan Not Reverse?
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