4 Common Administration Routes for Naloxone
There is not just one way to take naloxone. Below are the most common naloxone administration routes.
Intravenous (IV) Administration
Naloxone is commonly marketed under the brand name Narcan. An injectable version of Narcan was approved for use in 1971, with IV administration being the preferred route. This injectable form of Narcan is no longer marketed, but there are generic naloxone injections available.
Administering naloxone via IV causes the drug to work within 1-2 minutes, but it can be difficult to administer the drug intravenously in the case of an emergency overdose. There is also a risk of first responders being exposed to HIV or hepatitis B with an IV naloxone dosage.
A naloxone dosage may be administered via IV route in hospital settings.
The initial naloxone dosage given via IV administration will vary based upon a person’s body weight. Repeat doses may be needed.
Another one of the admin routes for naloxone is via intramuscular (into the muscle) or subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. A handheld naloxone device called Zimhi allows bystanders, such as family members, to inject naloxone into the thigh of someone who is suffering from an opioid overdose. Zimhi can be injected through clothing if necessary.
One dose of Zimhi contains 5 mg of naloxone hydrochloride. Repeat doses can be administered.
Perhaps the simplest form among all the naloxone administration routes is through a nasal spray. The brand name Narcan continues to market a naloxone nasal spray, which is available at the pharmacy counter without a prescription. Loved ones may purchase Narcan to save a family member’s life in case of an overdose.
One dose of Narcan nasal spray contains 4 mg of naloxone. Repeat doses may be needed.
Though not intended to treat an overdose, oral administration of naloxone occurs through the use of medications like Suboxone, which contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Suboxone, and it alleviates drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but the naloxone in this medication discourages Suboxone misuse , as it will send patients into withdrawal if they use the medication in an attempt to get high.
Suboxone is available in various formulations, which provide differing doses of buprenorphine and naloxone, depending upon a patient’s needs.
Proper Use of Naloxone
To ensure proper use of naloxone, it is important to follow the guidelines on the medication label and to use the medication as instructed by a physician or pharmacist. If you are administering naloxone via nasal spray or an intramuscular/subcutaneous injection, follow the instructions on the medication device.
What Precautions Are Needed When Giving Naloxone?
In addition to following guidelines on the medication label, it is critical to contact emergency medical personnel as soon as possible after administering naloxone. The medication is effective only for a short period of time, and a person may begin overdosing again if not provided with follow up treatment. Follow-up care, often in a hospital setting, is needed after administering naloxone for an opioid overdose.