In March 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
approvedNarcan for over-the-counter (OTC) use. This means you’ll be able to buy Narcan off the shelf, without consulting with a pharmacist. Narcan is not yet available for OTC purchase in pharmacies, but it’s expected to become available later in 2023.
Narcan (naloxone) is a prescription brand-name medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it to treat opioid overdose in adults and children of all ages.
Narcan comes as a nasal spray. The active drug ingredient is naloxone, which is in a drug class called opioid antagonists. (A drug class is a group of medications that work in a similar way.) Narcan is available only as a brand-name drug. It doesn’t come in generic form.
To learn about the dosage of Narcan, including its form, strength, and how to take the drug, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Narcan, see this article.
Note: This article describes typical dosages for Narcan provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking Narcan, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
Narcan is used to treat a known or potential opioid overdose. Below is information on the normal dose used for this condition.
Narcan comes as a single-dose nasal spray. The drug comes in a package that contains two nasal spray devices (two doses).
Each Narcan device contains one 4-milligram (mg) dose of the active drug naloxone.
Typical dosages for opioid overdose
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
During an episode of opioid overdose, you’ll likely need someone else to give you a nasal dose of Narcan. Make sure that a caregiver, coworker, family member, or friend knows how to recognize an opioid overdose and understands how to use Narcan.
The starting dose of Narcan for opioid overdose is one spray into one nostril. If you aren’t breathing normally within 2 to 3 minutes of receiving your first dose, you should be given another dose. You’ll continue receiving intranasal doses of Narcan every 2 to 3 minutes until you start to breathe normally. Each dose should be alternated between your left and right nostril.
You or someone else should call 911 or your local emergency number right away after you’re given the first dose of Narcan. If it’s another person who makes the call, they should stay with you until emergency personnel arrive.
You may be wondering how many doses of Narcan can be administered. A person can receive as many doses of Narcan as they need to start breathing normally. There isn’t a known maximum dose for Narcan.
Narcan isn’t used as a long-term treatment. The drug is given as an emergency dose to reverse a known or potential opioid overdose.
The pediatric dose (children’s dose) of Narcan is the same as for adults. For details, see “Typical dosages for opioid overdose” above.
The number of Narcan doses you can receive will depend on several factors. These include the:
- Type of opioid that you use. For example, you’ll likely need several doses of Narcan to reverse an opioid overdose caused by buprenorphine (Buprenex).
- Dose or amount of opioids used. If you use an opioid that has a high dose or use several of the opioid, you may need more Narcan doses than usual.
- Route the opioid entered your body. Opioids that are injected or inhaled may require more doses of Narcan than opioids that are taken by mouth. This is because the body absorbs injected or inhaled opioids more quickly than oral opioids.
For more information about the Narcan dosage that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.
Narcan comes as a nasal spray. The drug is given as one spray into one nostril during an episode of opioid overdose.
To treat an opioid overdose, you’ll likely need someone else to give you Narcan. Make sure that a caregiver, coworker, family member, or friend knows how to recognize an opioid overdose and understands how to use Narcan.
For more detailed administration guidelines for Narcan, visit the manufacturer’s site.
You or someone else should call 911 or your local emergency number right away after you’re given the first dose of Narcan. If it’s another person who makes the call, they should stay with you until emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrive.
While you wait for EMTs to arrive
While you wait for EMTs to arrive, you’ll be given doses of Narcan every 2 to 3 minutes until you start to breathe normally. Each dose should be alternated between your left and right nostril. Individual Narcan devices contain only one dose of the drug, so each dose that’s given will come from a new device.
Between each dose, you should be placed onto your side. This position should help prevent you from choking in case you vomit.
If you have questions about how to use the Narcan device, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Narcan is given only in emergency situations when an opioid overdose is known or suspected. You won’t take regularly scheduled doses of the drug. So you aren’t likely to miss a dose of Narcan.
Narcan is administered in cases of known or possible opioid overdose. The drug can be given every 2 to 3 minutes until emergency personnel arrive. There isn’t a maximum recommended dose of Narcan. And there aren’t any known safety issues with giving a person more Narcan doses than they need.
If you take more than the recommended amount of Narcan
It’s not likely that Narcan will cause harm if you use too much of the drug. But if you’re concerned, call your doctor. Another option is to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Narcan for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.
You may need more than one dose of Narcan to treat an opioid overdose. The drug is available in a package that contains two nasal spray devices (two doses). If you have questions about the dosage of Narcan that’s right for you or the number of devices you should keep on hand, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Narcan. These additional references might be helpful for you:
- More about Narcan. For information about other aspects of Narcan, refer to this article.
- Side effects. To learn about side effects of Narcan, see the Narcan patient information.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.