Naloxone is a very commonly used 'competitive opioid antagonist'. This means that it binds with the opioid receptors in the brain/body without activating them. To put it another way; naloxone is a medicine that can temporarily reverse the effect of opioid by removing the opioid from the receptors, thereby assisting with the restoration of breathing. Naloxone has been used for many years by doctors and nurses in hospitals for reversal of post-operative respiratory depression, and reversal of respiratory and 'Central Nervous System' depression from opioid administration during labour and child birth. Naloxone is also used by paramedics in communities to reverse the effect of (accidental) opioid overdose.
- Naloxone does not get a person intoxicated/stoned/high, quite the opposite.
- Naloxone is not poisonous, and causes NO harm if swallowed.
- Naloxone is very safe, but does have some 'contraindications'.
- Naloxone is a 'Prescription Only Medication' and is currently only licensed in the UK for administration by subcutaneous, intramuscular or intravenous injection. In Scotland naloxone is also supplied to people under a Patient Group Direction (PGD). The PGD for supply of naloxone is a special document, agreed by senior clinician's, nurses and pharmacists (more about this in the 'Law and policy' section), so that they can LEGALLY supply the medicine to people who might be at risk of opioid related overdoses WITHOUT first looking at the persons medical record or consulting a doctor, who would normally be responsible for writing a prescription.
- Naloxone comes in various 'presentations' (pharmacy speak for packages, concentrations and doses). In the UK naloxone comes in ampoules, pre-filled syringes and 'mini jets'. It is manufactured in two different concentrations, 0.4mg per ml, and 1mg per ml. In Scotland (and at the time of writing) it has been decided to use a 1mg per ml concentration that comes in a 2 ml pre filled syringe, meaning that people are supplied with 2mlg of the medication.