Opioid Safety

Opioid Safety

How to use naloxone: A guide for patients and caregivers

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Opioid Safety

What is an opioid overdose?

Opioids can cause bad reactions that make your breathing slow or even stop. This can happen if your body can’t handle the opioids that you take that day.

To avoid an accidental opioid overdose:

  • Try not to mix your opioids with alcohol, benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium), or medicines that make you sleepy.
  • Be extra careful if you miss or change doses, feel ill, or start new medications.

In case of overdose:

1. Check responsiveness – Look for any of the following:

  • No response even if you shake them or say their name
  • Breathing slows or stops
  • Lips and fingernails turn blue or gray
  • Skin gets pale or clammy

2. Call 911 and give naloxone
If no reaction in 3 minutes, give second naloxone dose

3. Do rescue breathing and/or chest compressions
Follow 911 dispatcher instructions and stay with person until help arrives.

How to Give Naloxone:

There are 4 common naloxone products. Follow the instructions for the type you have.

Nasal spray
This nasal spray needs no assembly and can be sprayed up one nostril by pushing the plunger.

Nasal spray with assembly
This requires assembly, follow the instructions provided.

The naloxone auto-injector needs no assembly and can be injected into the outer thigh, even through clothing. It contains a speaker that provides step-by-step instructions.

Injectable naloxone
This requires assembly, follow the instructions provided.

Common Opioids

GenericBrand Name
HydrocodoneVicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Zohydro
OxycodonePercocet, OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percodan
MorphineMSContin, Kadian, Embeda, Avinza
CodeineTylenol with Codeine, TyCo, Tylenol #3
FentanylDuragesic, Actiq
MethadoneDolophine, Methadose
BuprenorphineSuboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv, Bunavail, Butrans
*Heroin is also an opioid.

Learn more:

For more information, call (619) 380-0678.

Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health

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