Overdose Advice

Naloxone is an emergency medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose of opioids like heroin or morphine.

This page will tell you what you need to know about naloxone, and how it could help you to save someone’s life.

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of opioids, such as heroin, methadone, opium, codeine, morphine and buprenorphine. Naloxone can even save someone’s life if it's used quickly after they have overdosed on opioids.

How to get your free naloxone

We already provide naloxone and are ensuring that everyone who needs it has it. All our services have stock so if you don’t have naloxone and need it please contact your local service - you could use it to save a life, for example if you use opiate drugs or if someone you know does.

If you use your naloxone kit, or if it is lost, damaged or out of date, we will be happy to provide you with a new one. See below link for service contact details:

Also, if you are using one of our service Needle Exchanges, we will provide you with naloxone when we see you.

How to use naloxone to save someone’s life

If someone has had an opioid overdose, naloxone will only reverse the effects for a while. After 20-40 minutes, the effects will wear off and the person will go back into overdose.

Always dial 999 and ask for an ambulance straight away after giving someone naloxone.

Naloxone kits come in three types:

  1. Prenoxad, which comes as a pre-filled syringe
  2. Nyxoid, which comes as a nasal spray
  3. Naloxone ampoules

If someone is having an overdose, keep calm and follow these steps:

  • Make sure that you’re not in any danger first. Keeping yourself safe is important.
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
  • Check to see if there is anything obstructing their airways.
  • Place the person in the recovery position. You can find out how to do this here (NHS video)
  • If you have Prenoxad, inject it into their thigh or upper arm muscle.
  • If you have Nyxoid, place the spray in their nose and press the plunger.
  • Wait with the person until the ambulance arrives, and give the used naloxone kit to the paramedics.
  • If you have naloxone ampoules you should have already received instructions on their use but please contact your service if you are unsure.

How to give naloxone by injection

How to give naloxone by nasal spray 

When you use naloxone, you should see it start to work in 2-5 minutes. The effects will last for between 20-40 minutes, but after that they will wear off and the person will begin overdosing again. It’s important that the person still gets medical help during this time.

Naloxone is only effective for opioid overdoses, and won’t work with any other non-opioid drugs. You should never use it as a safety net to take extra risks.

How to tell if someone has overdosed

Keep an eye out for these signs that someone is having an overdose:

  • Deep snoring/gurgling noises
  • You can’t wake the person up, and they do not respond if you shake their shoulders or call their name
  • A blue tinge to the lips, nail beds or other extremities
  • They have stopped breathing.

Find out more about recognising an overdose by watching this video

You should always call 999 if you think someone is having an overdose.

Don’t be scared that you’ll get in trouble. The ambulance won’t bring the police with them except in very particular cases.