Narcan (Naloxone, Generic Name): Addiction And Abuse

Last Updated: July 2, 2021

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

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.

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.

narcan ingredients

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)

Narcan Abuse

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.

Naloxone High

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.

Naloxone Interactions

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.

naloxone interactions

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.

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)

Naloxone Withdrawal

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.

Narcan Recall

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.

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Published on: June 19th, 2019

Updated on: July 2nd, 2021

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.