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Empowering Communities with Narcan: FDA Approval for OTC Use

How to Use Narcan

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the United States, the need for effective treatments and prevention methods has become increasingly urgent.

One such treatment that has gained significant attention in recent years is Narcan, a brand name for naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. This month, a Narcan FDA approval has made it available for over-the-counter (OTC) use, in an effort to make it more widely available to those who may need it. In this article, Banyan Treatment Centers will explore what Narcan is, how it works, and how its OTC approval can empower communities in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

How Does Narcan Work?

Narcan is a brand name for naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone works by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to, effectively blocking the opioids and reversing their effects. Narcan is most commonly administered as a nasal spray, though it can also be given via injection. Naloxone is not an opioid and is not addictive, making it a safe and effective treatment option for opioid overdoses.


The Importance of Narcan and Naloxone in the Opioid Epidemic

According to the CDC, over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, with opioids being most of those deaths.1 Naloxone has been shown to be highly effective in reversing opioid overdoses, making it a crucial tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic. By quickly reversing the effects of an overdose, naloxone can prevent death and give individuals a second chance at recovery.


FDA Approval for OTC Use of Narcan Nasal Spray

This month, the FDA officially approved Narcan nasal spray for OTC use.2 This means that individuals can soon purchase Narcan without a prescription from a healthcare provider. This decision was made in response to the growing need for naloxone in communities across the country. By making Narcan more widely available, the FDA hopes to increase access to this life-saving medication and reduce the number of opioid-related deaths.


The Uses and Benefits of Narcan

Narcan is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It can be administered by anyone, regardless of their medical training, making it a valuable tool for first responders, family members, and friends of individuals who use opioids. Narcan is a fast-acting medication, with effects typically taking place within minutes of administration. It is also relatively safe, with few reported side effects. Narcan can give individuals a second chance at recovery and is a crucial tool in reducing opioid-related deaths.

How to Use Naloxone Nasal Spray

Naloxone nasal spray is also easy to administer and does not require any medical training. The basic steps for using naloxone nasal spray are similar to those for Narcan:

  • Remove the naloxone nasal spray from its packaging.
  • Hold the spray with your thumb on the bottom and your first and middle fingers on either side of the nozzle.
  • Tilt the person's head back and gently insert the nozzle into one nostril, pressing down on the plunger to administer the dose.
  • Repeat in the other nostril if necessary.
  • If the person does not respond within 2-3 minutes, administer another dose.

As with Narcan, it is important to call 911 and seek medical attention immediately after administering naloxone.


Where to Get Narcan Nasal Spray

Since the FDA's approval of Narcan nasal spray for OTC use, it can soon be purchased at most major pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid. Narcan nasal spray may also be available for purchase soon at grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, and even online. The nasal spray will come in a package of two 4mg doses in case the person overdosing does not respond to the first dose. The drug's maker, Emergent BioSolutions says the nasal spray will be available in stores and online by late Summer. They have not disclosed what the cost will be.

Empowering Communities with Narcan

The Narcan FDA approval is a significant step forward in the fight against the opioid epidemic. By making this life-saving medication more widely available, communities can take an active role in preventing opioid-related deaths. Through education and training, individuals can learn how to effectively respond to overdoses and save lives. With the help of Narcan and naloxone, we can work together to reduce the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on our communities.

For those who are ready to begin their own recovery from opioids, or with a loved one in such a situation, most Banyan locations offer options for addiction treatment, particularly from these infamous substances. Additionally, patients can access opioid detox programs at many of our addiction facilities.

There is so much more to life than struggling with a substance. Let our
Banyan rehab locations help you discover this for yourself. Call us at 888-280-4763 and speak with a specialist about how to get started.



  1. CDC - S. Overdose Deaths In 2021 Increased Half as Much as in 2020 – But Are Still Up 15%
  2. FDA - FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Naloxone Nasal Spray


Related Reading

How Narcan Works
Naloxone: The Investment You Need to Make Today

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.