As fentanyl overdose deaths continue to rise in New Jersey, we’re learning some OD victims may not respond to a single treatment of naloxone, a medication sold under the brand name Narcan that is used to reverse the effects of opioids and bring users back from the brink of death.

“Because of the potency of fentanyl, in some cases, a second dose of naloxone is necessary to revive an individual," Angelo Valente, the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said.

He noted some OD victims may respond to a single dose of naloxone but because of the strength of fentanyl, a second dose is necessary sometimes.

He said medical examiners across the Garden State are now finding fentanyl in the bodies of 90% of drug overdose victims, which should serve as a reminder a single dose of naloxone may be insufficient.

Narcan nasal spray (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)
Narcan nasal spray (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

An update on the fentanyl crisis

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is presenting a webinar focusing on fentanyl on Tuesday, June 28 at 11 a.m. and anyone can join without charge by registering here.

A wide spectrum of participants will include medical professionals, government officials and family members who have lost loved ones because of an overdose.

He said because fentanyl is being mixed with so many illegal substances these days having a supply of naloxone “for family members who have individuals that are dependent on and using illicit drugs is really a very important part of hoping to save their lives.”

It's like Russian roulette

He noted the fentanyl problem continues to get worse and it has now reached a crisis point, which means “there’s no safe way to experiment with drugs, it’s a message that can prevent tragedy.”

“Anyone who have a family member or friends that are using opioids or using heroin, they should get access to naloxone, because naloxone is certainly a life-saver," Valente said.

He acknowledged some pharmacies in lower-income areas of New Jersey may not typically carry naloxone because it may cost between $100 and $150. The state has made strong efforts to provide the drug free of charge on several occasions.

Get Naxolone

New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition confidentially mails free Naxolone to people in New Jersey. More information is at the organization's website. 

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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