What is Narcan?


Narcan is the brand name name for naloxone nasal spray, a medication used to reverse opioid overdose. Naloxone works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors in the brain, effectively reversing the effects of opioids and preventing further harm. It is available in various forms, including injectable and nasal spray, and is often carried by first responders and individuals at risk of opioid overdose.

Medical formulation and administration

Narcan is administered as a nasal spray, which is sprayed into one nostril while the person experiencing an overdose is lying on their back. It can also be administered via injection. It begins to work within 2-5 minutes after administration.

How long does Narcan stay in your system?

Narcan has a half-life of 1 to 1.5 hours in the body. However, because opioids often last longer than Narcan, repeated doses may be needed to prevent the person from slipping back into overdose.

Historical context

Naloxone was first approved by the FDA in 1971, but its accessibility increased significantly with the opioid crisis. Narcan, the nasal spray version of naloxone, was approved by the FDA in 2015, providing a more user-friendly delivery method for non-medical personnel.

← Back to glossary home

Treatment that works is right at your fingertips.

Get started