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What is Narcan? & How to Get Trained

Naloxone (generic), also known as Narcan (brand name), is an opioid antagonist, meaning it is an overdose reversal agent that only works on opioids.


When someone experiences an opioid overdose, their system has been overwhelmed by the opioids in their brain, which in turn tells the body to slow its breathing to the point of stopping. When administered to someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose, Narcan will restore breathing, but it lasts in the body for a much shorter amount of time than the opioids that caused the overdose, so a person must receive medical attention or else they are at high risk of going back into the overdose. That is why it is important to call 911 as soon as you suspect an overdose is occurring. If there are no opioids present in the body, there is no negative effect or harm done by using Narcan.

A few facts about Narcan from the MA Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services:

  • Paramedics and hospitals have been using Narcan to reverse opioid overdoses for decades.
  • Narcan is available in various formulations, but the most common version available for public distribution is applied intranasally.
  • Naloxone is safe, easy to administer, has no side effects and has no potential for misuse.
  • Naloxone has a shelf life ranging from one year to eighteen months, depending on the formulation.
  • Naloxone is highly effective at reversing opioid overdoses.

Who should obtain Naloxone (Narcan)?

According to a recent advisory by the U.S. Surgeon General, it is strongly recommended that you carry naloxone (Narcan) if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • An individual who is misusing or is addicted to opioids.
  • An individual who may have a long-term and/or a strong dose prescription of an opioid.
  • Family and friends of an individual who may be at risk for an opioid overdose.
  • Community members who might come in contact with people at risk for overdose.

Today many physicians are prescribing Narcan along with their patient’s prescription of opioids just in case an accidental overdose occurs. Risk factors for opioid overdose include:

  • Using drugs alone, when there is nobody available to help.
  • Mixing opioids with other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, also known as ‘benzos.’ Benzos include Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Librium, and others.
  • Changes in tolerance from a period of abstinence or using less. This might happen after a hospitalization, jail, detox, or following a period of recovery.
  • Having poor nutrition, a weak immune system, heart problems, or health issues such as unhealthy lungs from smoking, having HIV, Hepatitis C, or liver damage from drinking.
  • Changes in quality or purity of street heroin and fentanyl.
  • Surviving a past overdose.

How to Obtain Narcan

Natick residents can obtain Narcan and training in how to use it at the locations below. It is recommended that you call the Natick Board of Health or any of the pharmacies listed before going to those locations in order to ensure that a trained staff member will be available to train you. No appointment necessary at JRI Health and Learn to Cope meetings.


Natick Health Department

Town Hall 2nd floor
13 East Central Street
(508) 647-6460
Free Narcan and opioid overdose prevention training available by appointment to any Natick resident who would like to carry Narcan.

Office Hours:
M-W 8:30AM-5PM
Thurs. 8:30AM-7PM
Fri. 8:30AM-12:30PM


Learn to Cope

Meetings are held Monday – Thursday 7–8:30PM
Free Narcan and opioid overdose prevention training available to family members/friends of an individual using opioids.

For more information, visit: Learn to Cope


JRI (Justice Resource Institute)

Program RISE Opioid Overdose Prevention Program
1 Grant Street, Suite 100, Framingham, MA
(508) 935-2960
M & F 8:30am-3:30pm ; T, W, Th. 8:30am-6:30pm
Free Narcan, opioid overdose prevention training, and safe syringe access/needle exchange available.

For more information, visit: Program RISE


CVS Pharmacy

137 W. Central Street, Natick, MA 01760
Available to anyone from the public who requests it, no prescription needed. Cost based on insurance co-pay or out-of-pocket pay.


Natick Family Pharmacy

67 Union Street, Natick, MA 01760
(508) 720-4971
Available to anyone from the public who requests it, no prescription needed. Cost based on insurance co-pay or out-of-pocket pay.


Walgreens Pharmacy

148 W. Central Street, Natick, MA 01760
Available to anyone from the public who requests it, no prescription needed. Cost based on insurance co-pay or out-of-pocket pay.