How to get Narcan in Arizona: What it's for, and how to use it

With the fentanyl crisis getting worse in Arizona and nationwide, residents can take overdose prevention into their own hands if they see signs of it in their community.

More than 22 million pills were seized in the state in 2022 with no signs of slowing. According to the DEA, half of all fentanyl seized in the United States last year came from Arizona.

According to the latest statistics from the CDC, more than 71,000 Americans died in 2021 from fentanyl overdoses, and statistics in 2022 are expected to be much higher.

"Ideally, naloxone should be immediately accessible to family members and friends of people at risk of opioid overdose, first-responders to opioid overdose patients, and medical providers," officials said with the Arizona Dept. of Health Services.

What is Narcan?

Naloxone, or Narcan, is a medicine that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

It works by attaching to opioid receptors in the body's nervous system, preventing the opioid from attaching to those receptors and causing more damaging effects.

Narcan can restore breathing to a person who's breathing has stopped from an overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It only works on people with opioids in their system. This includes fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine and morphine. 

It can be injected or delivered as a nasal spray. The nasal spray version is more widely available to the public and can be easier to use.

The nasal spray is single-use, and instructions are available online.

Can anyone have it?

Arizona law states that any person in the state can administer the drug to people experiencing an opioid overdose.

"A person who does this in good faith and without compensation is not liable for any civil or other damages as the result of the act," reads a section of the statute.

How to get it

Any pharmacists licensed in Arizona can distribute the medication over the counter, and it's freely available through a variety of agencies and organizations.

People can call ahead to make sure it's in stock to pick it up. The cost may vary at the pharmacy, but may be free or discounted with insurance.

Substance abuse centers, community organizations and health clinics are among those offering the medication for free.

The following local organizations have made maps of places people can access naloxone for free:

There are a number of resources where people can learn to spot overdoses and get trained to use Narcan for free, including:

Spotting signs of an overdose

The Arizona Dept. of Health Services says the following symptoms could indicate if a loved one is overdosing on an opioid:

  • Heavy nodding, deep sleep, hard to wake up, or vomiting 
  • Slow or shallow breathing (less than 1 breath every 5 seconds), snoring, gurgling, or choking sounds
  • Pale, blue or gray lips, fingernails, or skin 
  • Clammy, sweaty skin 

More resources

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