Increasing access to life-saving naloxone

According to a recent update from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), 1,256 Massachusetts residents died from opioid overdoses, a figure higher than deaths from car accidents and guns combined. This tragic news shines a spotlight on the value of overdose prevention. Getting the life-saving drug naloxone (also known as Narcan) to people who need it is one measure that the state is taking to combat opioid overdose deaths.

In Massachusetts, there are three ways that active users and those who care about them can get naloxone:

  1. Go to a state funded naloxone distribution site. Overdose prevention training and naloxone kits are free at these sites.
  2. Go to a pharmacy with a naloxone “standing order.” Having a standing order means that you do not need a prescription to get naloxone at these pharmacies. In Massachusetts, every Walgreens pharmacy and most CVS pharmacies have standing orders. Many other local pharmacies also have standing orders, so call ahead to see if you can get naloxone at yours.
  1. Ask for a prescription from your doctor. Active opioid users, their friends and families, and anyone else who might be there when someone overdoses can get a prescription for naloxone.

People who overdose might also be given naloxone by first responders, such as police officers or EMTs, after someone calls 9-1-1. MDPH has been training first responders to make sure they have naloxone and know how to use it. Since joining the program in 2010, Quincy police have saved nearly 400 lives with naloxone. Legislation is currently pending for a new law that will make it more affordable for cities and towns to purchase naloxone for police and fire departments in their communities.

Visit the Stop Addiction website for more information about what to do if someone overdoses. If you or someone you know needs help finding opioid or other addiction treatment, search the Helpline website or call 800.327.5050 to talk with a trained referral specialist.