How to Get Narcan (naloxone) in Orange County, CA
In 2018, despite a slight drop in overdose deaths nationwide, deaths from drug overdoses were still four times higher than in 1999.1 On a national level, opioids are involved in almost 70% of all overdose deaths.2 Data from Orange County reflect these numbers. In a 5-year period between 2011 and 2015, 7 of 10 overdose deaths investigated by the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner involved opioids.3
The use of fentanyl, an extremely powerful opioid, is a leading cause of such deaths.1 Unfortunately, illicitly manufactured fentanyl is increasingly contributing to overdose deaths, and not just for heroin and painkiller users. The Solace Foundation, a harm reduction organization in Orange County, states that most drugs they test show the presence of fentanyl.4
The often-unsuspected presence of fentanyl in other drugs can be disastrous. In CA, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl and fentanyl analogs), grew by nearly 60% in just one year from 2017 to 2018.2 The use of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, can help to curb these deaths. One such example is a 2018 incident in Chico, CA where fentanyl-laced heroin led to a mass overdose. First responders with naloxone on hand were able to save 12 of the 13 individuals who overdosed.4
What Is Naloxone?
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist medication that can save the life of someone overdosing on an opioid. When opioid drugs are used, they’re able to exert their potentially dangerous effects by binding to and activating opioid receptors throughout the body.5,6
Naloxone is able to efficiently block this interaction by displacing opioids from the receptor; so, when naloxone enters the body it essentially kicks the other opioids off the receptors and prevents additional receptor binding to reverse the life-threatening effects of overdose. In this manner, naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing to someone whose breathing has slowed or stopped.5,6
How to Access Naloxone in Southern California
If you, a friend, or a family member close to you regularly uses or abuses opioids, whether prescription painkillers or heroin, having naloxone on hand in the event of an overdose can potentially safe a life. Even those who use opioid painkillers as prescribed may benefit from having it on-hand. The San Francisco Department of Health (SFDPH) recommends that individuals on long-term opioid therapy receive a naloxone prescription. Even if you think you’re not at risk for overdose, the unexpected can occur. For example, someone else in your home may steal and take the opioids. The SFDPH states that “naloxone is…prescribed for risky drugs, not risky patients.”6
There are several ways to obtain Narcan in California. Medicare and California Medicaid plans cover naloxone, as do many private insurance plans.7 Other ways to access naloxone as an individual or organization are listed below.
One such option is the Solace Foundation of Orange County, the first naloxone distribution program in Orange County, CA. The Solace Foundation provides Narcan, as well as training on how to use it, every Sunday at 10 am at:8
550 North Golden Circle Dr.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
You can message the Solace Foundation to RSVP for a Narcan distribution/training event at (949) 612-5514. You can also access their training video online.
CA Walgreens Pharmacies
Walgreens states that they offer Narcan over-the-counter in all of their pharmacies across the United States, including California.9 You can search CA locations near you with the Walgreens online store locator. Other pharmacies may also sell naloxone without a prescription.
If you have questions about whether your local pharmacy/grocer offers Narcan over-the-counter, do not hesitate to call first and ask. If they don’t dispense it themselves, they may be able to direct you to another pharmacy or provide additional resources that do.
CA Department of Health Care Services
If you are an organization, such as a school or library, homeless shelter, or religious entity, you may request free naloxone through the CA Department of Health Care Services’ Naloxone Distribution Program.10
You can find a list of qualifying organizations and an application on the DHCS website.
The Basics of Using Narcan for Overdose
Naloxone may be given to someone showing signs of opioid overdose. Signs that a person has overdosed on opioids include:11,12
- Extreme sleepiness or loss of consciousness.
- Tiny pupils.
- Shallow/slow breathing or not breathing.
- Choking or gurgling noises.
- Limp body.
- Pale or cold skin.
- Bluish lips or skin.
Guidelines for using Narcan if you are with someone who overdoses include the following:12
- Call 911. This is always your first step. The person will need emergency care after you deliver naloxone, as they could re-experience overdose effects when the medication wears off. Other medical issues may also arise that require emergency care.
- Try to wake the person up. You can gently shake them, pinch them, or try rubbing their breastbone with your knuckles.
- Check for signs of overdose, such as shallow breathing.
- If you believe the person overdosed but aren’t completely sure, administer the naloxone.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to give naloxone.
- Give the medication 2 to 3 minutes to work.
- If the person doesn’t wake up, or they are still not breathing after 2 to 3 minutes, give a second dose of naloxone (unless emergency services are already onsite).
- Administer CPR if you are trained and feel comfortable doing so.
- Lay the person on their side with knees bent and airway open and stay with them until help arrives.
View Our 6-Min Narcan Training Video
911 Good Samaritan Immunity Law in California
One concern that you may have about giving Narcan or Evzio to another person in the event of an overdose is that you might be arrested for using drugs or having them in your possession.
Know that in California, there is a Good Samaritan overdose immunity law for those who call 911 and help to provide emergency assistance to another in the case of overdose. Should you intervene in good faith in an overdose and call for emergency help, the law protects you from arrest for:13
- Being under the influence of drugs.
- Possessing controlled substances or drug paraphernalia for personal use.*
In order to be protected by this law, you must not obstruct medical or law enforcement personnel.13
The legal protections of this Good Samaritan law do not include offenses that involve dangerous activities that result from substance use, such as driving while intoxicated. It also does not protect against arrest for related charges include parole violation.13
*While it may be difficult to tell if drugs are truly intended for “personal use,” the law protects those who have a small enough amount of drugs that it would not suggest they intended to engage in drug-selling or trafficking.13
Orange County Harm Reduction Resources
Harm reduction goes beyond naloxone. Orange County offers other resources for harm reduction associated with opioid use, including services to help persons with HIV and hepatitis. Unfortunately, the Orange County Needle Exchange Program was shut down in 2018; however, existing resources in Orange County include:
- HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C services. Orange County also offers services for HIV and hepatitis C testing and treatment. These resources include:
- Drug disposal locations. There are numerous drug disposal/needle drop-off locations in Orange County for you to safely dispose of medications and used sharps.
Other organizations provide similar harm reduction services in other parts of California, such as San Francisco. For example, the San Francisco DOPE Project offers Narcan and training on how to use it.
If you are struggling with an addiction to heroin other opioid painkillers or you love someone who is, we can talk you through your options for treatment anytime at . Every call is 100% confidential.