The Life Saving Miracle Drug: Free Narcan
Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, has been a hot topic in the last decade. It is a miracle drug that reverses the effects of opioids, proving to be incredibly powerful against opioid overdose.
Basically, it is used to treat opioid overdose, saving lives easily and quickly.
So the thought goes, then, shouldn’t it be widely available to anyone and everyone who needs it? Currently, naloxone costs between $20 and $40 per dose and Narcan costs anywhere between $130 and $140 per dose. Even with the generic brand, that can be an unnecessary expense when it comes to emergency overdose treatment.
So many professionals in the mental health field are pushing to provide free Narcan, or at the very least free naloxone, to anyone who needs it.
While this hasn’t totally been adopted by all treatment facility and medical centers quite yet, there are many cities and organizations that are making moves to provide free Narcan to people in their area.
What is Narcan?
First created in the 1970s, naloxone helps reverse the effects of opioids by preventing them from binding in the brain. Just like opioids bind with opioid receptors in the brain, triggering a chemical response in the brain that is felt by the user as a high, naloxone binds to the same receptors to block opioids from getting there first.
Though the mechanism by which naloxone and opioids bind to receptors is the same, the actual effect on the brain is quite the opposite. Where opioids produce a high, naloxone prevents it.
As such, it not only helps treat opioid overdose but it also prevents users from experiencing the high that opioids would otherwise offer.
Since it was developed, it has been adapted into different methods of administration, such as nasal sprays, so that the drug can be administered by anyone pretty easily. Rather than reserving the life-saving drug for medical professionals with medical training, it is now available to people and users who need it the most.
Though this drug has been hailed as a life-saving treatment for opioid overdose, it is in no way intended to be the sole treatment of opioid overdose or addiction.
Instead, it is meant to be used in the case of an emergency until the user can make it to proper medical services. This is because naloxone has a very short half-life, making it ineffective once the drug wears off. As you can imagine, it’s super important that the user gets medical treatment immediately upon taking the drug.
Many people are concerned that the availability of naloxone will encourage more opioid use. While this may be true, it does not change the fact that people will continue to use opioids no matter what and that many lives have already been saved by the drug.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over two-thirds of drug-related deaths are due to opioid overdose. No matter your stance on the drug, it is indeed a helpful tool against the opioid epidemic until better solutions are provided.
Where Can You Find Free Narcan?
Though Narcan is not widely available for free at the moment, there are many locations where users can find free Narcan.
So far, 41 states currently sell naloxone without a prescription, including Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Though not all of these 41 states offer free Narcan to users who need it, there are other places and organizations that do:
- New York City, New York – there are many community-based organizations that provide free Narcan to anyone who needs it. You can find a location near you.
- Oklahoma has Think Smart Oklahoma, which has partnered with organizations throughout the state to provide users with up-to-date information about free naloxone.
- Louis, Missouri has a supply of free Narcan through the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, along with a brief training on how to administer naloxone
- Cleveland, ohio has the MetroHealth System’s Project DAWN, which supplies free Narcan to any Cuyahoga County resident that needs it.
- Many public libraries and YMCAs throughout the United States offer free Narcan, thanks to Emergent BioSolutions, which provides free Narcan kits to over 16,000 public libraries and 2,700 YMCAs in the U.S.
If you or a loved one struggle with an opioid addiction, it’s worth looking into free Narcan options near you. Though Narcan and naloxone do not completely treat an opioid overdose, it can help prolong the life of the user while en route to medical treatment.
Medically Reviewed: April 28, 2019
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.