Why You Should Carry Narcan In Massachusetts

Over-the-counter Narcan can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, making it essential for people who are at the risk of overdose.

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Narcan was once used exclusively by doctors, first responders, and other healthcare professionals in emergency medical settings.

However, in early 2023 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first over-the-counter (OTC) naloxone spray, also known as Narcan, for use by the general public.

This allows people, especially those who may know someone at risk of overdose, to have Narcan ready in case of an emergency.

What Is Narcan?

Narcan is a brand name for a medication called naloxone, a drug that can rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Narcan works by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to, reversing or blocking the effects of the opioids and preventing fatal overdoses.

Narcan is typically administered as an injection or nasal spray, and it can quickly restore normal breathing and consciousness in a person who has overdosed on opioids.

Types Of Naloxone

Naloxone is also sold under the brand names Narcan and Evzio. There are three types of naloxone available: injectable, auto injectable, and prepackaged nasal spray.

In community-based programs and for bystander use, the nasal spray forms are often preferred due to their availability and ease of use.

In emergency medical settings, healthcare professionals may use injectable forms for more rapid administration.

Uses For Naloxone

The main and most critical purpose of Naloxone is to rapidly reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose, which include drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone.

Naloxone is used by first responders and healthcare professionals to provide immediate care to people who have overdosed on opioids.

It can also be administered by bystanders, friends, or family. This allows individuals who are witnessing an overdose to step in, whether or not they have formal medical training.

Naloxone is also one of the two active ingredients in Suboxone, which is used for medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Overdose Statistics For Massachusetts

Opioid overdose is a significant public health concern. In Massachusetts, there were an estimated 2,357 drug overdose deaths in 2022, surpassing the number of fatal overdoses recorded in 2021.

The opioid-related overdose death rate increased by 42 percent among non-Hispanic Black residents. Furthermore, overdose deaths increased among males in all groups by 41 percent.

The opioid epidemic is an official public health emergency, leading to various initiatives, including the availability of Narcan over-the-counter.

The availability of over-the-counter Narcan has helped reduce opioid overdose deaths. Naloxone was administered in 97 percent of acute opioid overdoses in the first three months of 2023.

Over-The-Counter Narcan In Massachusetts

In March of 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for Narcan nasal spray to be available without a prescription as an over-the-counter medication.

As of September 2023, over-the-counter Narcan is accessible to the public in Massachusetts. It is no longer kept behind the pharmacy counter and is displayed on store shelves.

Anyone who knows someone at risk of an opioid overdose can get naloxone for free at distribution programs like the Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) program.

Additionally, anyone in Massachusetts can use insurance or cash to buy Narcan through their pharmacy. This decision was fueled by Massachusetts’ opioid epidemic in an effort to save lives.

Where To Receive Narcan Training

Narcan training can be helpful to ensure you’re prepared in the event of an opioid overdose.

During training, you’ll learn to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose, how to administer Narcan, and what to do in the moments following administration.

The following organizations offer regular overdose prevention and response trainings:

  • BSAS Training Calendar
  • Health Resources in Action (HRiA)
  • Grayken Center for Addiction Training & Technical Assistance

Additionally, many local health departments, community-based groups, and public health agencies offer free or low-cost Narcan training programs.

Some pharmacies, especially chain pharmacies, may also offer Narcan training as part of their public health initiatives. You can inquire at your local pharmacy for more information.

Carrying Narcan Outside Of Massachusetts

Although it is legal to carry Narcan in Massachusetts, it may still be considered paraphernalia in other states that do not sell Narcan over-the-counter.

Before traveling outside Massachusetts with Narcan, look up the local laws of your destination to see whether you can legally carry Narcan.

Helping Someone With An Opioid Overdose

Helping someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose can be a life-saving intervention.

Here are the steps to follow if you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids:

  • call 911
  • assess responsiveness and check the person’s breathing
  • administer Narcan if the person is unresponsive and not breathing properly
  • perform rescue breathing if you are trained to do so
  • roll the person onto their side in a “recovery position”
  • stay with them until medical help arrives

Remember that Narcan is not a substitute for professional medical care, and even if the person responds to naloxone, it’s essential to seek emergency medical assistance for an opioid overdose.

Get Opioid Addiction Treatment In Massachusetts

If you or someone you love is experiencing opioid addiction in Massachusetts, help is available. Contact our Bedrock Recovery Center specialists today.

  1. Massachusetts Department Of Public Health (DPH) https://www.mass.gov/news/massachusetts-opioid-related-overdose-deaths-rose-25-percent-in-2022#:~:text=There%20were%202%2C357%20confirmed%20and,by%20an%20estimated%2057%20deaths
  2. Massachusetts Department Of Public Health (DPH) https://www.mass.gov/info-details/overdose-naloxone-training-resources
  3. Massachusetts General Hospital https://www.massgeneral.org/psychiatry/news/narcan-otc#:~:text=Earlier%20this%20year%2C%20the%20Food,is%20also%20National%20Recovery%20Month.
  4. National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/naloxone
  5. The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts https://www.mass.gov/info-details/frequently-asked-questions-faqs-about-naloxone

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: January 24, 2024

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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