Naloxone, also known by the brand names Narcan and Evzio, is a drug that can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose, and for those who regularly take opioids for pain, it can be a good idea to keep this prescription antidote on hand.
Given as an injection into muscle or as a nasal spray, naloxone can be given by anyone who’s taught how, and can even be administered safely to someone who has not taken opioids. The drug can immediately save someone from an opioid overdose, and has reduced the number of deaths from this cause without sparking an increase in opioid use, according to Sarah Wakeman, M.D., FASAM, medical director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, who wrote about the issue for the Harvard Health Blog in August.
A recent study conducted in six San Francisco primary-care health clinics found that patients who received a naloxone prescription along with their long-term opioid prescriptions made 47 percent fewer opioid-related emergency-room visits per month for the following six months, and 63 percent fewer after one year. If you are taking opioids over the long term for cancer-related pain, ask your doctor if you might benefit from filling a prescription for naloxone as a precautionary measure.