The basics of naloxone

What: Naloxone, opioid overdose reversal drug.

Purpose: To prevent death from opioid overdose by allowing patient to regain breathing.

Sold as: Narcan, a nasal spray; Evzio, an auto-injector similar to an EpiPen; naloxone, a vial for injection.

How it works: When opioids overstimulate certain receptors in the brain, users can overdose and stop breathing. Naloxone knocks opioids off the receptors, which reverses suppressed breathing and allows users to regain consciousness. The drug takes effect in five minutes or less and lasts roughly one to two hours. It is effective for drugs including heroin and fentanyl, and prescription pain medications such as Vicodin and oxycodone. It has no effect on people who have not taken opioids.

Cost: Varies based on version of the drug and insurance coverage; some nonprofit agencies give it out for free.

Where to get it:

• Training events: For example, Opioid 101 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin. The free event concludes with a naloxone training. To register, contact Gil Feliciano at (630) 883-4944 or

• Pharmacies: 135 pharmacies and health education centers have a standing order from the state to distribute naloxone without a prescription; Walgreens and CVS sell it without a prescription.

• Chicago Recovery Alliance: Makes deliveries to the Western suburbs from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Call (708) 715-0704. Details:

• Live4Lali: Provides training on administering naloxone and gives out doses. Contact Laura Fry at (844) 584-5254 ext. 803 or

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