Narcan Over the Counter & Generic Name

The U.S. is in the midst of something being called the opioid epidemic, or the opioid crisis and it refers to the massive numbers of people who abuse, are addicted to and often overdose and die because of their use of a certain class of drugs.

Narcan Over the Counter | Narcan Generic Name
The opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s and has continued to worsen. It largely started because of the flood of prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone into the marketplace, which are prescribed to treat anything from mild to severe pain in many cases. Some doctors and medical facilities tended to prescribe these drugs in large numbers with little oversight, likely not realizing the addictive nature, possibly until it was too late.

The opioid drug class includes not only prescription painkillers, but also street drugs like heroin, and both prescription and illegal opioids affect the brain and body in most of the same ways.

When someone takes opioids, either prescriptions or illegal heroin, it binds to certain receptors found in their central nervous system, and that’s what creates a feeling of euphoria. Unfortunately, that euphoric high that feels so pleasurable is also accompanied by many dangerous and often deadly side effects.

One of the biggest risks of opioids is an overdose.

When someone takes too high a dose of an opioid, it can slow the functionality of their central nervous system so much that their breathing gets dangerously slow, or stops altogether.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that overdose deaths related to opioids have reached what they describe as epidemic levels. In 2015, deaths related to heroin overdoses reached higher levels than death rates from both guns and car accidents. Drug overdoses have also become the top cause of death of people in the U.S. under the age of 50, and a staggering two-thirds of those drug deaths are the result of opioids.

The problem isn’t getting better and is instead getting worse. Through the first half of 2017, the death rates from overdoses were higher than even the year before.

Because of the staggering financial, social and cultural impact of the opioid epidemic, something called naloxone has been introduced, relatively recently. Naloxone is a generic drug that can reverse the effects of opioids if someone is overdosing. It’s available as the brand name Narcan, which is a nasal spray version of naloxone.

Narcan works by knocking the drugs a person has overdosed on out of their opioid receptors. Because of its method of action, it’s defined as an opioid antagonist.

When Narcan is taken a person should regain normal breathing and regain consciousness as well, although they do still require emergency treatment. In some cases, multiple doses of Narcan may have to be given.

In response to the opioid epidemic, there has been a push to make Narcan as widely available and as accessible as possible.

Narcan over the counter options are available in the majority of states around the country. It’s a prescription drug, as is the generic version of naloxone, but for the most part, people can gain access to Narcan over the counter without a doctor’s prescription.
It’s available at community organizations, and many national pharmacy chains including Walgreens, which in 2017 announced would have Narcan available at all locations.
Narcan nasal spray comes pre-assembled, and each dose containers either 2 mg or 4 mg of the active ingredient naloxone. It doesn’t require an injection, although generic and brand name injectable versions of naloxone are available.

While there are still a few states that don’t technically allow for Narcan over the counter, for the most part, it’s a pretty available drug without a prescription. Some of the other ways Narcan over the counter laws vary from state-to-state include the fact that some states may only dispense the drug without a prescription to the actual patient, while others will give it to loved ones of an opioid addict without a prescription.

Even with Narcan over the counter options becoming so increasingly available, someone who is an addict themselves isn’t going to be able to administer it on their own if they overdose. That’s why it’s important not just to obtain Narcan, but also to let a loved one or caregiver know where it is and how to access it if they do overdose.

As was touched on above, the Narcan generic name is naloxone. Narcan, which is the brand name of the generic naloxone is specifically a pre-dosed nasal spray. Naloxone in a generic form is an injectable product that is given in the muscle of the user. It’s not recommended that people without a medical or emergency services background administer the injectable version of naloxone, which is why Narcan is typically preferred.

It should also be noted that some people are afraid to administer Narcan because of the fear of liability if something were to happen. Because of this many states are moving forward with legislation that protects people who administer Narcan or naloxone to someone who is overdosing on opioids.

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