Naloxone saves lives.

An opioid overdose is scary. But an opioid overdose, including those caused by fentanyl, can be reversed if you know what to do. Naloxone is a safe, legal, life-saving medicine that you can carry in a pocket, backpack, or purse.

Naloxone: What it is and where to find it

When an overdose happens, breathing slows or stops. Naloxone (also known as Narcan) blocks the effect of the opioid, restores breathing, and reverses the overdose. It’s a small, simple-to-administer nasal spray that can save a friend, a family member… anyone experiencing an opioid overdose.

Naloxone only works on opioids. Opioids are substances such as fentanyl, heroin, oxycontin/oxycodone and other opioid-based pain medications. Here are two ways you can get naloxone:


Check with community-based organizations.
Free kits are often available in-person or by mail.


Visit your local pharmacy. Download or print out the Washington State “Standing Order” which acts as a prescription and take it to any pharmacy*.


Note that as of March 2023, the U.S. FDA approved Narcan, a brand of naloxone nasal spray, for over-the-counter (OTC) sales. Price and distribution details are in process.

*Prices vary depending on your health insurance. If you have Apple Health (Medicaid), naloxone is free at the pharmacy. Just be sure to bring a digital or printed copy of the standing order with you.

Always carry naloxone

Naloxone can save lives, but only if you have it with you. If you use opioids, or know people who do, remember to:

  • Bring your naloxone with you.
  • Keep a spare kit at home if possible.
  • Tell others you have naloxone and where to find it in an emergency.

Other need-to-know info:

  • Anyone can administer naloxone. There is no certification or training required to use it.
  • Naloxone is safe. It won’t hurt someone if they’re overdosing on drugs other than opioids or if they are having some other health issue. If you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids, it’s always best to use naloxone.
  • More than one dose of naloxone may be needed when stronger opioids like fentanyl are involved.

Be prepared to save a life

If you are with someone who may be overdosing, you’ll need to perform basic first aid and administer naloxone promptly. The steps below do not require any special training—just the willingness to save a life.

Check for signs of overdose, including:
  • The person won’t wake up and doesn’t respond to gentle shaking, yelling, or rubbing knuckles hard on the center of their chest.
  • They have slow or minimal breathing. Normal breathing is a full breath every 3-5 seconds.
  • They are cold or clammy when you touch their skin.
  • The color of their skin, lips and fingernails is pale, blue or gray.
Call 9-1-1
  • Tell the dispatcher what
    is happening.
  • Give them your exact location.
  • Follow their instructions.
  • If you call 911 for help for an overdose, know that you cannot be charged for drug use or possession. Read more about Washington’s Good Samaritan Law.
Give naloxone

To administer naloxone nasal spray, also known by the brand name Narcan, follow the steps below. These will also be included on the naloxone packaging.

Peel back the
package to remove
the device.
Place and hold the tip of the nozzle in either nostril.
Press the plunger firmly to release the spray into nose.

Naloxone may take three minutes or longer to start working. If the person still isn’t responding after three minutes, give them a second dose.

Provide rescue breathing
or CPR

If you have administered naloxone and the person is still not breathing normally (a full breath every 3 to 5 seconds), give them hands-only CPR or rescue breathing. If you don’t know how, the dispatcher on the 911 call will walk you through providing hands-only CPR.

  • Lay them flat on their back.
  • Gently tilt their head back and pinch their nose closed.
  • Give 2 quick breaths into their mouth.
  • Give 1 slow breath every 5 seconds until they’ve regained consciousness.
Provide support

As the person recovers, they will likely be scared, disoriented, and uncomfortable. To help them feel safe and cared for:

  • Stay with them until medical help arrives.
  • If you can’t stay with them, roll them gently on their side and be sure first responders can find them.
  • When they wake up, treat them kindly and reassure them they are safe.
  • Naloxone wears off within 30-90 minutes. When it wears off, they may begin to overdose again and may require a second dose. If you didn’t call 911, stay with the person through this period.

Afterwards, make sure to take care of yourself. You did something scary and you may be emotional. These feelings are normal. If you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to the WA Recovery Helpline.

Avoid using alone if you can

The safest way to use drugs is around others. That way, if someone overdoses, there are people around to help or provide naloxone if necessary. If possible, try to avoid using alone—or ask a trusted friend or family member to check on you.

If you can’t avoid using alone, there are options to help you stay safe:

Never Use Alone Hotline: 1-800-484-3731
A stigma-free, volunteer peer-run call center with operators available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Brave App
An overdose detection mobile app designed by and for people who use drugs.