Finding Narcan (Naloxone) in New Jersey
In recent years, the prevalence of opioid overdoses across the U.S. has gained national attention. Like many states, the New Jersey government has made a concerted effort to minimize the number of fatalities related to opioid overdose.1
One method of curbing overdose deaths that lawmakers in many states, including New Jersey, support is increasing access to naloxone, a lifesaving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.2 Naloxone can be obtained by the general public typically in the form of a nasal spray (Narcan) or in an auto-injectable device (Evzio). We’ll show you some places in and around Lafayette Township to find naloxone and training on how to use it, as well as some basic instructions on the medication. Finally, you’ll find a list of other harm reduction resources in New Jersey.
How to Get Narcan in New Jersey
If you’re a New Jersey resident wondering where to buy Narcan (naloxone) or learning how to use it, there are a number of places for you to go:
- CVS pharmacies. Naloxone can currently be purchased at CVS pharmacies in New Jersey without a prescription.3
- Walgreens pharmacies. All New Jersey Walgreens locations are providing Narcan nasal spray without a prescription.4
Regional overdose prevention programs. New Jersey offers regional programs to guide at-risk individuals and their families and loved ones through overdose rescue procedures, and to provide them with naloxone rescue kits.
- In Northern New Jersey, the program is called Morris County Prevention is Key (MCPIK). Address and contact information for this facility can be found on their website.
- The State of New Jersey Department of Human Services. The department website provides an overdose response training video on their website, which includes the use of naloxone as well as rescue breathing techniques.
- Narcan manufacturer. Instructions are provided on the “How To Use Narcan Nasal Spray” section of the Narcan website or in video form on YouTube.
- Evzio manufacturer. Evzio also provides text and video instructions on how to use the naloxone autoinjector.
- Sunrise House Treatment Center. Our New Jersey treatment facility has provided trainings in the past on how to use Narcan to reverse an overdose. Our events page provides a schedule of any upcoming events or trainings.
Online Video Tutorial from American Addiction Centers
What Is Naloxone & When Is It Used?
Narcan is a nasal spray device that administers a single dose of naloxone—a potentially lifesaving drug that has the potential to restore normal breathing to someone whose breathing has slowed or stopped due to opioid overdose. Naloxone works by binding more strongly to opioid receptors than the opioid drug that caused the overdose. In doing so, it knocks the opioid drug off the receptors and reverses the life-threatening effects of a heroin or painkiller overdose.5,6
Another device for administering naloxone is Evzio, a prefilled autoinjector that injects a dose of naloxone into the outer thigh of someone suffering from life-threatening respiratory depression as a result of an opioid overdose.6 Evzio has been discontinued but it is still available and may be used until its expiration date.7
Both Narcan and Evzio are simple to use and do not need to be administered by a medical professional. However, it is critical to call 911 in the case of an overdose. The person will need to be assessed by emergency medical professionals since signs and symptoms of an overdose may return after the dose of naloxone wears off. After that, the individual could begin to reexperience the overdose effects.6
Is There a Good Samaritan Law in NJ?
Sometimes, a person witnessing an overdose may be fearful to act because of possible legal repercussions. However, New Jersey state law protects people that attempt to rescue someone that is overdosing.9
The New Jersey Overdose Protection Act was enacted to help prevent overdose deaths by removing the threat of arrest for those who attempt to help in an overdose emergency. The Act protects “Good Samaritans” who, in good faith, seek medical assistance to help an overdosing individual. It grants these individuals, as well as the overdosing individual, immunity from arrest or prosecution for:9
- Purchasing or possessing controlled substances.
- Being under the influence of controlled substances.
- Failing to dispose of the drugs in their possession.
The Overdose Protection Act does not, however, grant immunity to a person suspected of trafficking or manufacturing illegal drugs.9
How to Respond to an Opioid Overdose
In the event that you witness what you believe to be an opioid overdose, you should:10,11
- Try to wake the person. Call their name and/or tell them you are going to call 911. If they do not respond, try to physically stimulate them by rubbing your knuckles on their sternum or lips.
- Call 911 immediately. Let them know that someone is unresponsive and having trouble breathing. Give the dispatcher your location and provide detailed answers to their questions.
Administer naloxone as soon as possible. Follow the instructions provided on the package of Narcan nasal spray or the Evzio autoinjector.
- If the person does not respond 2-3 minutes after naloxone was administered and first responders have not yet arrived, administer another dose, if available.
Provide rescue breathing. If trained to do so, witnesses should begin CPR without delay.
- The Red Cross provides a list of training events in New Jersey if you would like to participate in in-person training.
Continue monitoring the person. Stay with the overdosing individual and look for any changes in condition until emergency responders arrive on the scene.
- Position the person on their side with their knees bent and airway open to ensure they won’t choke if they vomit.
New Jersey Harm Reduction Resources
Harm reduction refers to efforts aimed at reducing the harm of risky behaviors. While the approach is sometimes met with controversy and is sometimes shunned by proponents of abstinence-based programs, there is a great deal of evidence to confirm that harm reduction greatly reduces the spread of disease and the mortality rate of certain dangerous activities.12
One of the most successful efforts at harm reduction for drug users is the implementation of needle-exchange programs, which have been shown to dramatically decrease the infection rate of HIV/AIDS in locations that adopt these programs when compared to areas that do not provide needle-exchange programs.12
The availability of naloxone (in itself a harm reduction practice) has been shown in at least two locations to reduce the amount of self-reported drug use. This is in addition to the many lives that have been saved by its use in overdosing individuals.3
New Jersey has adopted several harm reduction policies and provide many resources to limit morbidity and mortality surrounding opioid addiction. These include:
New Jersey Harm Reduction Centers (also called Syringe Access Programs) which:
- Distributes the following in NJ: naloxone, condoms, and sterile needles.
- Provide overdose prevention training.
- Provide education on safe injection, as well as the safe disposal of syringes.
- Treat wounds.
- Perform HIV and hepatitis testing.
- Provide vaccinations.
- Give referrals and linkages to physical health and mental health services, including addiction treatment.
- Provide reproductive health care resources including pregnancy tests.
- Are staffed by Access to Reproductive Care and HIV (ARCH) Nurses to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C from mother to child in at-risk populations.
- A guide to the safe disposal of syringes.
- A list of locations that allow the safe disposal of needles.
New Jersey Opioid Abuse Statistics
While New Jersey has made efforts to reduce the amount of opioid overdose fatalities, there is still much work to be done. Consider that:1,13
- Almost 90% of the 2,900 overdose deaths in New Jersey involved opioids in 2018.
- In 2019, the total number of drug overdose deaths rose to 3,021.
- More than 15,100 naloxone administrations were needed in NJ in 2019.
- More than 70,000 opioid prescriptions were dispensed in Sussex County alone in 2019.
- New Jersey medical professionals prescribed nearly 40 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents in 2018.
Opioid abuse has harms that extend beyond the risk of overdose. For example, opioid users, especially those who inject, increase their risk of contracting and transmitting infectious diseases. In New Jersey:13
- 4% of new HIV diagnoses of males and 17.4% of females in 2017 were attributed to injection drug use.
- An estimated 47,200 people were living with Hepatitis C (HCV) in 2017. (More than 86% of people in the U.S. living with HCV reported using needle drugs before their diagnosis.)
In 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a “collaborative, comprehensive, and multi-pronged approach across several departments and agencies” to fight the opioid epidemic. The approach includes:14
- Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for drug rehabilitation.
- Making naloxone more widely available.
- Providing more drug education and outreach programs.
- Strengthening social programs that provide housing and employment opportunities to at-risk communities.