A naloxone kit is emergency gear that includes the drug of the same name. Naloxone is used to block the effects of opioids like heroin and fentanyl. In most kits, naloxone is in the form of an injectable medication. The drug is also available in the form of a nasal spray. Naloxone is administered when a suspected opioid overdose has occurred.
Contents of a Naloxone Kit
A naloxone kit contains all of the items needed to administer this emergency medication in the event of an opioid overdose. The primary elements of a naloxone kit are multiple doses of the medication in prefilled disposable syringes with needles. A kit also includes instructions on how to use the medication.
How Is Naloxone Used?
In most cases, naloxone is injected into the muscle of a person suspected to have overdosed on an opioid drug. The most commonly used injection site is the outer side of a person’s thigh. If necessary, an injection can be made through clothing.
How Long Does It Take for Naloxone to Take Effect?
Generally speaking, naloxone takes effect in a matter of two to five minutes. With that said, if no response is noted within this time frame, a second injection may be necessary. Indeed, in some cases, more than two injections of naloxone may be needed to aid a person who has overdosed on an opioid drug. Using multiple doses of naloxone is acceptable and causes no dangerous side effects.
Because more than one dose may need to be administered in an emergency situation, a naloxone kit contains multiple prepared syringes. With that in mind, care must be taken to replace a naloxone kit after it has been used. Even though a dose or doses may remain in a kit, the best practice if to have a naloxone kit on hand that contains a full complement of multiple doses of the antidote to opioid overdose.
Should Naloxone Be Part of a First Aid Kit?
As mentioned previously, opioid overdose is a truly significant issue in California and across the United States. A question that you might have is whether or not you should include naloxone as part of a first aid kit in your home or place of business. Because of the prevalence of opioid overdose in state and country today, a wise decision is to include naloxone in your first at kit at your home or at your business.
Is a Prescription Necessary to Obtain Naloxone?
One area in which there is a notable amount of confusion is in regard to whether or not a prescription is needed to obtain a naloxone kit. In California, and in all states, you can obtain a naloxone kit without a prescription.
The most widely sold brand names of naloxone in California and across the United States are:
- Naloxone HCI Novaplus
- PremierPro RX Naloxone HCI
- Targiniq ER
Should Naloxone Be Used If an Opioid Overdose Can’t Be Confirmed?
The reality is that in many situations a person may not be certain if another individual has overdosed on an opioid drug. There may be uncertainty as to whether or not this is the issue at hand.
If there is doubt as to whether a person has suffered an opioid overdose, but it is suspected or a possibility, naloxone should be administered. If a person is given naloxone who technically does not need the medication, the provision of naloxone will not have negative consequences.
Contact Emergency Medical Personnel
The use of naloxone does not take the place of medical intervention and assistance. If a person has overdosed on an opioid, 911 needs to be called immediately. Emergency medical personnel must come to the scene of the overdose. This is mandatory even if an individual promptly responds to naloxone.
People Most at Risk for Opioid Overdose
The World Health Organization has identified a set of specific individuals who are most at risk for opioid overdose. These include:
- People with opioid dependence
- People who inject opioids
- Individuals who use prescription opioids
- People who use opioids in combination with other sedating substances
- Individuals who use opioids and have medical conditions such as HIV, liver or lung disease, or suffer from depression
- Household members of people in possession of opioids (including prescription opioids)
People Likely to Witness an Opioid Overdose
There are certain individuals who are most likely to confront a situation in which an opioid overdose occurs. These are people who should have access to a naloxone kit. These individuals include:
- Individuals at risk of an opioid overdose
- Friends and family members of people at risk for opioid overdose
- People whose work brings them into contact with people who overdose, including health-care workers, police, emergency service workers
Accidental Exposure to Fentanyl
Another situation in which opioid overdose can occur is when an individual accidentally is exposed to fentanyl or another opioid. The stark reality is that exposure to only a small amount of fentanyl can result in an “innocent bystander” overdosing on this dangerous and powerful drug.