Opiates such as heroin and methadone slow your central nervous system down. An opiate overdose can slow the central nervous system down so much that the brain forgets to breathe, which can lead to death. Naloxone is the antidote to an opiate overdose, it works as an antagonist by forcing the opiates off receptors in the brain, which reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. Naloxone is short acting, meaning its effects will start to wear off after a short time and a person can enter back in to an overdose state. It is vital that an ambulance is called if you suspect someone has overdosed, even if you have administered naloxone as they will need further care.
Naloxone is a prescription only drug, so pharmacies cannot sell ot over the counter. But drug services can supply it without a prescription. And anyone can use naloxone to save a life in an emergency.
Take home naloxone kits that are provided to indiviudals at risk of an opiate overdose or to indiviudals likely to witness an opiate overdose come in the form of an injectable kit (Prenoxad) or a nasal spray (Nyxoid). The injectable kit is a pre-filled syringe and is injected in to a muscle, and the nasal kit is a nasal spray that is administered in to the nostril.
Naloxone is specifically used to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. It is not to be confused with naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist, used for dependence treatment rather than emergency overdose treatment.
Naloxone is derived from Thebaine. Thebaine (paramorphine) is a naturally occurring chemical of opium, but has stimulatory rather than depressant effects.
Most areas of the UK have 'street agencies' or projects (sometimes called community drug services or community drug teams) which offer a range of services including information and advice, counselling, and sometimes support groups and complementary therapies such as acupuncture. Some services have extended working hours and may offer weekend support. If use of this substance becomes a problem you can seek help, advice and counselling from a service in your area. GPs can make referrals to specialist drug services. For a description of what the different drug services do, choose helping services from here or the main menu.
Parents & other relatives
Drug agencies also provide lots of advice and support to parents of people using these drugs. Many street agencies can provide relative support groups or counselling for family members, partners etc.