Henderson County Campus 270-827-7700 Union County Campus: 270-389-5000

The use of Naloxone (Narcan) for Narcotic (Opioid) overdose

Tom Parr, Pharmacist, Methodist Hospital

Narcotic overdoses have been dramatically increasing and deaths from opioid narcotics more than tripled between 1999 and 2017. The most common causes of opioid overdoses are prescription drugs including oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and heroin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were over 70,200 drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2017. Twenty-three states including Kentucky and the District of Columbia had overdose death rates greater that the national average. According to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Kentucky had 1,565 deaths in 2017. Fentanyl was involved in 52% of all deaths; Henderson County had eight drug overdoses in 2017.

What is Narcan?
Narcan is a narcotic antagonist, which blocks the effect of narcotics on the brain. This prevents central nervous system and respiratory depression.

What are the signs of a narcotic overdose?
Signs of an overdose can include drowsiness, unconsciousness, slow or absent breathing, pinpoint pupils, skin that feels cold and clammy to the touch and blue lips or fingernail beds.

What is the first step to take if you encounter an overdosed person?
Call 911!

What steps can be taken to revive someone with Narcan?

  • Roll the person over to their side.
  • To administer Narcan nasally, insert the bottle tip into a nostril and spray one squirt into nostril.
  • Begin CPR. If there is no response after three minutes, administer the second dose of Narcan and continue CPR.
  • To administer Narcan intramuscularly, administer an injection into the thigh and then begin CPR. If there is no response after three minutes, administer the second dose of Narcan and continue CPR.

By this time, your 911 emergency response team should be arriving to provide further assistance and advanced life support, if needed.

What if Narcan is administered and the person did not overdose on narcotics?
Naloxone (Narcan) has no adverse effects if the person with the suspected overdose did not indeed overdose on narcotics.

About Tom Parr, Pharmacist
Tom Parr lives in Jackson, KY and has been employed as a Pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Henderson, KY since 2013. He serves as one of two Pharmacists at the Hospital.