Naloxone – FAQ

The Lifesaving Opioid Overdose Reversal Medication

Questions about Narcan® / Naloxone

Updated 8/16/23

Where to Store Narcan

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that reverses an opioid overdose while having little to no effect on an individual if opioids are not present in their system. Naloxone works by blocking the opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. Naloxone is a prescription medication but in California it is also available without a physician’s prescription through pharmacies, local public health department programs and other community agencies. The medication can be given by intranasal [nose] spray, intramuscular (into the muscle), subcutaneous (under the skin), or by intravenous injection. [Source: DHCS FAQ]

For the public, we distribute a nasal spray version on Naloxone called Narcan (2 bottles per kit). Emergency care providers and other health care professionals in Marin county often use intramuscular naloxone.

Each kit comes with two, one-time use sprays. Due to how potent the synthetic opioid fentanyl is, more than one dose may be needed. In some cases, four or more sprays have been needed to induce a response.

There are instructions on the box of Narcan®. Each box also includes a link and QR code for how to access a training video (English and Spanish) and additional local resources. OD Free Marin and partners can also provide staff and community training.

Please don’t. You never know when you may need to give both doses, so it is important to keep the two nasal sprays together in the box or together in a plastic bag.

Please check the expiration date on your kit (usually 3 years) and contact your provider for a replacement if your Narcan® expires (do not throw out expired Narcan® since it still works for up to 30 years!). Also, make sure you store your kit in a cool, shady place.

Stand back. The person may jolt up, be agitated, or vomit. Speak simply, reassure them that paramedics are arriving soon, and let them know you’ve given them Narcan because they overdosed. Stay calm and keep bystanders at a distance.

Narcan® lasts 45 minutes. By then, paramedics should have taken over but if not, administer Narcan® again if they fall back into an overdose.

Narcan® carries no risk of getting someone high.

Research has shown that naloxone does not lead to more drug use or riskier drug use.  Naloxone also causes acute opioid withdrawal symptoms, which is an effective deterrent from substance use.

See our webpage to learn where you can obtain FREE NARCAN® with training.

Store NARCAN® Nasal Spray in the blister and cartons provided. Store below 77°F (25°C). Do not freeze or expose to excessive heat above 104°F (40°C).

Please do NOT store NARCAN® in your car. We checked the temperature inside a small cooler on a sunny day, and the temperature was 108°F. That NARCAN® should be discarded in a safe medicine kiosk or contact OD Free Marin for advice.

Narcan only works on opioid overdoses. It will have no effect if the health complication is not due to an opioid (e.g., heart attack, stroke, seizure, or overdose caused by barbiturates or methamphetamines ). Call 911 immediately for any serious medical crises, including suspected overdoses.

If the individual is not breathing after you administer naloxone, pinch the nose, tilt the head back and give mouth-to-mouth breaths two to start and one every five seconds.

If you are CPR certified, chest compressions are also an effective way to restore or maintain the victim’s breathing. You may contact the American Red Cross or your local fire station to learn CPR or renew your certification.

Call 911 immediately!  All you have to say is “Someone is not responsive and not breathing.”  The individual may fall back into an overdose so medical attention is needed. While NARCAN® lasts 45 minutes, opioids can stay in the person’s system for 24 hours.

The Good Samaritan Law (H&S Code § 11376.5) protects you from arrest, charge, and prosecution for being under the influence or possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia if you make a good faith attempt to obtain medical care for someone experiencing a drug-related overdose.  For this protection to apply, you cannot obstruct medical or law enforcement workers.  This law does not protect you if you are on parole, selling drugs, or forcing people to take drugs against their will.

Yes! Go to to view our quick, 6 minute training video (also available in Spanish). Also read the FAQs and take the short proficiency quiz.

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