Surgeon General urges more people to carry Narcan for opioid overdoses

The U.S. Surgeon General issued a rare public health advisory this week urging more people to carry Narcan, the potentially life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says it is important for friends and family of those at risk for an opioid overdose to have the drug, also known as naloxone, on hand.  An estimated 2.1 million Americans struggle with opioid addiction, according to public health officials. The number of opioid overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2010 from 21,000 to more tan 42,000 in 2016. 

“It is time to make sure more people have access to this life-saving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home," Adams said in a statement

Police departments and emergency response agencies already use naloxone. Both the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments have recently started training their officers to carry the drug in the field. 

Naloxone is widely available and is covered by most insurance plans. In most states, you can get the drug at a pharmacy even without a prescription. For those without insurance, it may also be available through local health programs at low to no cost. 

Naxolone is delivered via a nasal mist or injection. Adams insists it is easy to use and safe to administer. 


I, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.