What is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication that temporarily stops the effects of opioids and helps a person resume breathing after an opioid overdose.  Naloxone is sold under several brand names, dosages, and formulations (e.g., nasal spray, injectable).

Why is Naloxone Important?

Naloxone can help prevent drug overdoses. Fata overdoses in Georgia have been increasing and are largely driven by the presence of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the drug supply. In Georgia, from 2019 to 2021, drug overdose deaths increased by 61% and fentanyl-involved overdose deaths increased by 230%.

Non-fatal drug overdoses are also increasing in Georgia. From 2019 to 2021, emergency department visits and hospitalizations for drug overdoses increased 10%, from 24,886 to 27,388.

How Can I Get Naloxone?

In Georgia, you can purchase naloxone from your pharmacy without a prescription from your doctor.  Not all pharmacies carry naloxone, so call ahead to find out if your pharmacy stocks naloxone. Local health departments and community-based organizations may be able to assist you in getting naloxone at little to no cost.

How Do I Use Naloxone?

Naloxone won’t harm someone if they’re overdosing on opioids or other drugs, so it’s always best to use it if you think someone is overdosing. If someone is not breathing and not responsive, follow these steps:

  1. Try to wake them by speaking loudly, pinching, or rubbing your knuckles up and down the sternum (the bony part in the middle of the chest).
  2. If you have naloxone, use it. Administer one dose every two minutes.
    • Injectable: Draw up the entire vial and inject into thigh muscle (must be muscled to work)
    • Nasal: Stick the device all the way up one nostril and click the plunger, make sure the device is inserted fully (medication will absorb through the sinuses)
  3. Call 911, and explain someone is not responsive and not breathing.
  4. Provide rescue breathing.
    • Get the person on their back, tip their head back to straighten the airway, pinch their nose, put your mouth over theirs, and form a seal, one breath every five seconds
  5. When the person starts to breathe regularly on their own, roll them into a recovery position on their side.
  6. Be gentle with them and yourself afterward!

Does Naloxone Cause Side Effects?

The use of naloxone can sometimes cause symptoms of opioid withdrawal but are not usually life-threatening. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless, or irritable
  • Body aches
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea
  • Fever, chills, or goosebumps
  • Sneezing or runny nose in the absence of a cold

Medical Amnesty

Georgia has a Medical Amnesty Law, which provides limited immunity to those seeking medical attention for themselves or someone else. This immunity covers: 

  • Possession of certain drugs or drug paraphernalia 
  • Violation of probation, parole, and other violations 
  • Illegal possession and consumption of alcohol 

This law also provides civil and criminal immunity for the possession and administration of Naloxone.

Page last updated 2/22/23