I’ve chosen to use this space this week to educate anyone interested in how important the opiate antidote naloxone is, and hopefully convince you to order it (for free!) and carry it on you. It comes in a few forms, those available to the public are a nasal spray (the pharmacy and many harm reductionists call it Narcan) and an intramuscular injectable version.

Narcan or Naloxone are used when a person is visibly overdosing. Some signs of overdose include respiratory failure, slow breathing, small pupils, unresponsiveness, or blue skin from poor circulation. In mutual aid work, oftentimes we have to use narcan to administer emergency healthcare to our neighbors. Oftentimes, YOU also interact with opioid users in your community like the bus, in public spaces, in parks, in your neighborhoods, and maybe in your home or place of work.

Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period

These deaths, however, are often preventable through the use of narcan and follow up care. Narcan is easy to get in the United States. There is a federal open script for narcan, meaning it is available without a prescription from your doctor at all major pharmacy chains for free. You can also order it at nextdistro.org/naloxone and through local harm reduction orgs in your area. For Philadelphia, I recommend The SOL Collective (@the_sol_stories on IG). These orgs will teach you how to use it through a short instructional video, but if you go the pharmacy route I’d recommend watching it here.

Once you have the narcan, let your family members/roommates know where it is. I also let my neighbors know I have it for emergencies. You have no idea who uses what drugs, why not be safe and work in this small way to reduce harm in your community?