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Take home naloxone

Naloxone is a medicine that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. NSW Health is now providing naloxone for free to people at risk of witnessing or experiencing opioid overdose.

Take Home Naloxone

Take Home Naloxone

Naloxone provides a significant opportunity to save lives because opioid overdoses tend to happen gradually, rather than suddenly. Opioids include pain-relieving drugs legally prescribed by a medical professional such as oxycodone, morphine, codeine and fentanyl, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin. During an overdose, opioids slow down or stop a person’s breathing, which may eventually result in death (see ‘Signs of opioid overdose’ below). However, it is possible to prevent death by administering naloxone to reverse the effects of the overdose. For this reason it is best to avoid using opioids alone, as naloxone can only help if someone can administer it quickly. 

Opioids are responsible for over three deaths in Australia per day (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Prescribed opioids account for 70 per cent of opioid-induced deaths either by accident or through misuse. In 2018 the highest number of heroin-induced deaths was seen since 2000.

  1. What is naloxone?
  2. Who is naloxone for?
  3. Take home naloxone in NSW
  4. Where can I get naloxone?
  5. Signs of opioid overdose
  6. Pharmaceutical opioid use
  7. More information

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. In technical terms naloxone is a short-acting opioid antagonist that stops the central nervous system slowing down, giving a person experiencing an overdose the ability to breathe normally again. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system.

Naloxone can be given to a person experiencing an opioid overdose via a pre-filled injection or via a nasal spray. Traditionally, naloxone has only been administered by medical staff or emergency service officers, but with basic training it can be administered by anyone.

Who is naloxone for?

Naloxone is for anyone at risk of overdosing on opioid drugs or anyone who may witness an opioid overdose.

People in the following circumstances should consider keeping a supply of naloxone close by: 

  • People on high doses of opioid pain medicines 
  • People who use opioid drugs 
  • People returning to opioid use after a period of stopping or quitting 
  • People who use opioids in combination with other drugs or medicines 
  • Family, friends or loved ones of people who use opioid drugs

Take home naloxone in NSW

Take home naloxone programs, for people at risk of witnessing or experiencing an opioid overdose, have been established in Australia and internationally to increase awareness of naloxone, and reduce harm and death from overdose. Having naloxone at home enables community members to access the medicine quickly when and where they need it to treat an opioid overdose.

In NSW, take home naloxone was previously available as part of a research study in St Vincent's Health Network, five Local Health Districts (South Eastern Sydney, Sydney, Western Sydney, Hunter New England and Murrumbidgee) and the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

The naloxone intervention is now being expanded across NSW and people are able to access free naloxone and training on how to administer the medicine. 

Naloxone is also available on prescription by a doctor or over the counter from a community pharmacy.

Where can I get naloxone?

Nyxoid® nasal spray and Prenoxad® pre-filled syringe are available for free without a prescription from community pharmacies and NSW Needle and Syringe Programs (NSP) registered in the take home naloxone program.

Pharmacies

If pharmacies registered for the take home naloxone program are out of naloxone stock, they will be able to order stock for you on request. Please allow time for processing and delivery on new orders, this should take 24 hours to complete.

Find your local participating pharmacy on the list of NSW take home naloxone registered pharmacies.

Pharmacies list (PDF)

Note: With the document open you can use your browser or PDF viewer's search function (Ctrl and F keys) to enter and search via postcode or suburb.

NSW Needle and Syringe Programs

Take Home Naloxone is also available from some Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) sites across NSW. Please contact your local NSP service to confirm naloxone availability.

Needle and Syringe Program sites

Information about overdose

Pharmaceutical opioid use

There is a high risk of accidental overdose from pharmaceutical opioids such as fentanyl when used other than by your doctor's instructions, due to its potency and very fast action once inside the body. For example, fentanyl patches that attach to the skin can cause fatal overdose when heat is applied over the top, or if someone does not keep track of how much and how often it is being taken.

If you are prescribed a pharmaceutical opioid only use it as prescribed by your doctor and pay attention to any warning or caution advice.

More information

Check out the A-Z of Drugs listing and Support Services pages, including the NSW Opioid Treatment Program page for further information.

For further enquiries on the take home naloxone Intervention in NSW email MOH-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au.

Information for NSW public health services, Medically Supervised Injecting Centres (MSIC) and non-government and private service providers can be found at health.nsw.gov.au/aod/programs/Pages/naloxone. For information on the Commonwealth Government Take home naloxone pilot visit health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/take-home-naloxone-pilot.

For free and confidential advice give an Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) counsellor a call on 1800 250 015, they are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide confidential support and advice.



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