How to use Narcan — Learn in 3 minutes
For the last few months, New Jersey residents have been able to purchase naloxone — the opioid antidote better known by the brand name Narcan — without a prescription, even at pharmacies that don't have their own medical directors. The broad availability is just one aspect of the state's ongoing fight against heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkiller addiction.
It's literally a lifesaver. The medication was deployed 10,000 times in 2016 alone, state officials say. Numbers for 2017 are expected to be much higher. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office alone cited 502 naloxone reversals performed by county law enforcement — as well as more than 200 overdose deaths.
Naloxone is not hard to use — and that's by design. But you don't want to be fumbling with the applicator in the middle of an overdose crisis.
In this special video from Heroin Uncut — New Jersey 101.5's ongoing video and podcast series on the opioid crisis — host Jay Lassiter walks you through using one of the most common naloxone applicators. You'll see it takes Jay just seconds to assemble the "Luer-lock" nasal applicator that came with his generic dose from a New Jersey pharmacy — a dose that cost just $7.
The kit comes in three parts — a nasal atomizer, a cartridge with medication, and a delivery device.
To assemble this kit:
• Pop the yellow bottom off the delivery device.
• Pop the purple top off the medication cartridge.
• Insert the medication cartridge into the delivery device, twisting gently if you need to.
• Take the yellow lid off the delivery device and screw the atomizer onto the top.
When it's done, you'll have a syringe with the atomizer at the end. Press the back, and it'll release a fine mist. Spray half into one nostril, and half into the other.
Important: A single dose of naloxone may not be enough to revive an overdosing person. An overdose victim may even appear responsive to naloxone before the overdose takes hold again. Always call 911 for help, even before administering the naloxone.
The applicator for brand-name Narcan is slightly different. See these instructions from Adapt Pharma:
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Revisit past episodes of Heroin Uncut below:
• Rehab, jail and hard truths: What addicts say we don’t understand — Vince, Erik and Brian are on their way to recovery — with help. They also know well the way the systems meant to help them fall short, but with change could bring more addicts back from the brink.
• Marijuana vs. opioids — One is illegal, the other is killing us — has always believed that maybe, just maybe, if we regulated prescription opiates half as zealously as we regulate medical cannabis, we’d avoid a world of hurt.
• Taking note on addiction — hard lessons learned by NJ journalists. Everyone's talking about the opioid crisis — because it's everywhere. But too few of those making the important decisions and trying to bring light to the problem really understand it.
• Carter Stone was a Jersey boy. And when he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 32, his grieving family was predictably distraught — like any other family in their position would be. But what’s different about this family is the message it left behind.
• The heroes and villains of New Jersey’s opioid crisis — New Jersey’s heroin crisis did not create itself. Big Pharma, greedy lobbyists, and dimwitted policy makers created the perfect conditions for addiction to take hold and to thrive.
• How Narcan, a great cop and a convicted killer saved my life — No conversation so far has stood out more than then one Jay had with Anthony — a recovering addict who recounted his experience being revived with Narcan.
• The Opioid Industrial Complex — This is who gets rich off your addiction
— Acknowledging that addiction is big business helps clear up what’s really driving New Jersey’s opioid crisis:
• Narcan is saving lives — and that’s bad news — Narcan is an important tool in our war against opiates. But our reliance on it means things have already gone too far:
• Needle exchanges — Why NJ must give drug users syringes right now — An uncomfortable solution? You bet. It’s also why host HIV-positive and drug-recovering host Jay Lassiter doesn’t have hepatitis today:
• Heroin Uncut: Defining New Jersey’s drug problem — Our language about drugs is a jumbled mess. If we don’t understand the problem, we can’t fix it:
New episodes are released every Saturday.
Heroin Uncut is sponsored by Carrier Clinic, providing behavioral healthcare services in New Jersey since 1910.