Naloxone is a drug many opioid abusers are familiar with. Also known as Narcan, it has the potential to save lives when too much of a drug is ingested. But before it is taken, people should understand what naloxone hydrochloride is and what risks come with using it.
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Naloxone: What Is It?
Many people have heard of the drug, but not everyone knows what Narcan is. Evizo (naloxone) is a medication designed to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose when it is administered in a timely manner. The naloxone drug class is opioid antagonists.
Naloxone Brand Names
The naloxone drug is available under different brand names and generic forms. The correct naloxone generic name will depend on what version of the drug is being referenced. There are pure formulations, which are naloxone alone, and others that are combination drugs. Naloxone dosage also depends on the product form. Given that generic Narcan in user-friendly product forms is relatively new, things in the field are still developing, and more and more generic options are expected to be available with time.
The two brand names of the drug in the United States are Narcan (nasal spray) and Evizo (naloxone injections), with Narcan being the most well-known naloxone trade name. Evizo and Narcan’s generic name is merely naloxone hydrochloride. Opting for the generic version can greatly reduce the Narcan cost for users, making them more likely to have it on hand.
What Is in Narcan?
Knowing names and what the medication does is important, but equally vital is knowing what Narcan is made of. There is just one active ingredient in any pure naloxone formulation, and that is naloxone hydrochloride. The naloxone structure is C19H21NO4.
Other Narcan ingredients are inactive, helping the medication do its job, but not actually creating the effects the drug is used for. Inactive ingredients include:
- Sodium chloride (in injections and nasal spray)
- Hydrochloric acid (in injections and nasal spray)
- Water (in injections and nasal spray)
- Benzalkonium chloride (in nasal spray)
- Disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate (in nasal spray)
While Evizo can be lifesaving, it is important that users know all ingredients within the drug. If they have an allergy to any ingredient, the results of using the drug could be as bad as not taking it at all.
Naloxone (Narcan) is not considered to be a medication with abuse potential. Narcan medicine is one of the drugs considered by the World Health Organization to be both essential and safe. It suggests all medical facilities have it on hand.
But that does not mean that naloxone abuse never happens. As it becomes more widely available, addicts may attempt to use it to allow themselves to take more of a drug, hit a greater high, and then take Evizo to prevent death. Doing so is incredibly dangerous, especially given the Narcan side effects. However, that does not mean people will not try.
Is Naloxone Addictive?
Naloxone HCL is not considered to be addictive or habit forming. While users may feel a sense of safety having it nearby, this is not the same as being addicted to the medication. Evizo is a non-scheduled drug, which means the DEA sees no potential for addiction.
Something that users often wonder is if they can use Evizo to get high. The simple answer is no; naloxone HCL does not get users high. The way Narcan acts on the body specifically prevents the user from getting high—it antagonizes the opiate receptors, preventing them from registering any euphoric effects.
This then brings about the question: how long after Narcan can someone get high? While users should not attempt to get high ever again after using Narcan, naloxone half-life is very short, with the drug’s effects ending within 90 minutes of taking the medication. As a result, users will sometimes get high again and again from the drug they took prior to Narcan once the medication wears off.
Naloxone HCL is designed to be used in conjunction with some very powerful drugs to counteract them. However, that does not mean it is safe to use Narcan medication with all drugs. Some drug combinations are dangerous, even deadly.
Morphine And Naloxone
Evizo can be used to treat a morphine overdose. However, it is risky when done by those who are not medical professionals. When combined, the concentration of Evizo can be increased, rendering it dangerous.
Naloxone And Alcohol
As with morphine, mixing Narcan and alcohol can cause the medication to become too concentrated, causing more harm than good. If someone is suffering from an alcohol overdose, it is best that they are treated in the emergency room or by EMTs.
Using Evizo at home to reverse an alcohol overdose will provide no benefits as it is used only for opioid reversal.
Other Possible Interactions
There are 130 different medications and diseases that can interact with Evizo. Among the most concerning are:
- Droperidol (major)
- Droperidol/fentanyl (major)
- Acetaminophen/tramadol (moderate)
- Butorphanol (moderate)
- Dezocine (moderate)
- Heroin (moderate)
- Hydrocodone (moderate)
- Ibuprofen/oxycodone (moderate)
- Nalbuphine (moderate)
- Opium (moderate)
- Remifentanil (moderate)
- Ropivacaine/sufentanil (moderate)
- Fenfluramine (minor)
- Hydrocortisone (minor)
Patients who are administered the medication may worry about suffering Narcan withdrawal. Luckily, this is nothing to be concerned about. Evizo, even when given in relatively high amounts, does not lead to withdrawal as it is never in the system long enough. However, this does not mean no withdrawal will occur. If the user stops taking opiates, they can expect to withdraw from them. Medical assistance, preferably in the drug addiction centers, is needed to stop abusing opioids safely.
While it is considered to be a safe medication, Evizo is not without its issues. Some formulations have been recalled in the past due to particulates in the medication due to manufacturing errors. There are also worries that naloxone access laws may end up doing more harm than good. Arguments against Narcan include the risk of letting untrained individuals administer it and the idea that it will enable people to continue abusing drugs. However, as of yet, these arguments have not been able to curb the expansion of Narcan availability.
Narcan Is Not All-End Solution
If someone is concerned about naloxone access, it is a sign that they have a problem with opiate addiction. Getting help means more than having Narcan around. Users should get clean with the help of medical professionals who are able to provide effective substance abuse treatment as well as after-care psychological support.