With the number of overdose calls reaching a staggering high, administering Narcan to reverse opioid overdoses has been a popular topic of conversation in communities across the country. In April 2018, a public health advisory was issued by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, encouraging more people to carry Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan.

While to many Narcan offers a life-saving solution to overdosing individuals, it has also received a fair amount of pushback. Here is a look at Narcan, who can use it, and why it is controversial for some people.

What is Narcan?
Narcan is a brand name for the nasal spray form of Naloxone, a prescription medicine that is administered to reverse and treat the effects of an opioid overdose.  Narcan is a pre-filled nasal spray that is administered to the overdosing patient by spraying into one nostril. By blocking opioid receptor sites, Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose in a matter of minutes. It offers a safe, non-addictive treatment in times of crisis. After brief training, Narcan can be administered easily and should be used in addition to seeking medical attention.

Who can use it?
Narcan is available without a prescription at most pharmacies throughout the U.S. CVS Pharmacy, for example, now carries Naloxone in 47 states without a prescription needed. If your state is not on the list, CVS recommends asking your primary care physician without hesitation.

It is recommended that health responders, family, friends, as well as community members who may come in contact with an overdose obtain and know how to use Narcan.

Law Enforcement is often first called to the scene of an overdosing patient. Many police departments have now started carrying Narcan, and have successfully been able to revive an individual until medical attention has arrived. Senior contributor for PoliceOne.com, Doug Wyllie believes that every officer should be carrying Naloxone. He suggests that carrying Naloxone is an important tool for officer safety, especially when considering accidental exposure to opioid substances. However, not all police departments are on board with carrying Naloxone. One sheriff in Ohio has received tons of backlash after deciding his department would not carry the life-saving drug. Sheriff Richard K. Jones argues that carrying the drug does not cure the individual and that it can put officers at risk. He points out that people who are overdosing are usually not happy to see police arrive, and that it leaves officers in a vulnerable position when having to administer Narcan. Many skeptics also believe that Narcan should be left to medical professionals to administer, and by making it more available, it will only encourage more opioid use.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the U.S. Even with the amount of pushback it has received, Narcan in conjunction with community prevention tactics provides a solution to decreasing the number of opioid overdoses, and ultimately deaths across the U.S. Narcan is life-saving and is offering thousands of people a second chance at life.