Naloxone - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Naloxone: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a short-acting opioid antagonist that blocks the effect of opioids on the brain. It is an emergency medication used to reverse the life-threatening effects caused by the overdose of opioids such as morphine and heroin. 

Naloxone is given as a nasal spray, intramuscular (IM), intravenous and subcutaneous injection. Naloxone only works if opioids are present in your body. Quick medical intervention is required after administering naloxone to treat issues in opioid overdose cases because its effects do not last long.

What are the uses of naloxone?

Naloxone is given as an emergency drug to reverse respiratory depression caused by regular opioid usage. Some of its uses are as follows:

  • Naloxone is given as an emergency drug in hospitals to counter the effect of opioid overdose in drug addicts to reverse effects like unconsciousness and decreased breathing.
  • Naloxone is also used by people who are on opioid medications for a long time for chronic pains to overcome its effects.
  • It is also used as a maintenance treatment for opioid addiction by rapidly reversing the effects produced by opioids in drug abusers.
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What are the side effects of naloxone?

  • In the case of drug addicts, several withdrawal symptoms occur after naloxone is administered including restlessness, profuse sweating, fever and depression.
  • Naloxone contains some inactive agents that cause allergic reactions such as swollen lips, hives, an increased heart rate and shivering.
  • Other common side effects include:
    • Headache
    • High blood pressure
    • Constipation
    • Toothache
    • Stuffy and dry nose
    • Bone and muscle pain
    • Muscle spasms


Frequently Asked Questions about Naloxone

1. When do you administer naloxone?

Naloxone is administered as an antidote, in combination or alone, to reverse the harmful effects of an opioid overdose. It can also be used as a diagnostic test to determine an acute episode of opioid overdose. It can be administered intravenously, as an IM injection, or subcutaneously.

2. What precautions must be taken when using naloxone?

Naloxone is a short-acting drug; therefore, its effect wears off after a few hours. In such a case, various precautions should be taken such as constant monitoring and calling the emergency medical team to manage opioid overdose better.

3. Does naloxone make you sleepy?

No, naloxone does not make you sleepy. It reverses the effects of opioid overdose such as dizziness and sleepiness. Naloxone itself does not cause sleepiness. As it is a short-acting drug, the effects of an opioid overdose, such as sleepiness, can recur after naloxone treatment.

4. Is naloxone an antidote?

Yes, naloxone is an antidote drug used for opioid overdose. It blocks the action of opioids by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, thus aiding in a reversal of harmful effects of opiate dosage such as unconsciousness, shallow breathing and constricted pupils.

5. Does naltrexone affect your mood?

The effects of naltrexone vary from person to person. Naltrexone can lead to depressive and excitable episodes, which could also be because of withdrawal symptoms or underlying mental health conditions. It also counters the effects of euphoria caused by opioids.

6. What does naltrexone do to the brain?

Naltrexone binds to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks their activity. It also suppresses the activity of endorphin receptors to reduce the euphoric effect of alcohol on the brain. By blocking opioid receptors in the brain, naltrexone helps reduce alcohol and opioid dependency in patients.

7. Can I take naltrexone at night?

Take naltrexone precisely as prescribed by the doctor. Naltrexone is preferably taken in the morning right after waking up to control the opioid dependency of the patient throughout the day. However, there is no specific time to take naltrexone; hence, you should follow your doctor’s advice.

8. Is naltrexone hard on the liver?

Yes, if you are suffering from liver conditions such as liver failure or hepatitis, you should avoid taking high doses of naltrexone. However, it is always better to weigh the risks and benefits before the treatment. In stable cases of liver diseases, naltrexone can be used in small doses.

9. Can naltrexone help with anxiety?

No, naltrexone does not help with anxiety. This drug is specifically used as an antidote for treating opioid addiction and can have mood-altering effects such as an increase or decrease in anxiety, nervousness and depression. It should not be used to cure anxiety.

10. Does naltrexone block endorphins from exercise?

Yes, naltrexone blocks all types of opioid receptors and endorphins. Especially in the long-term treatment of opioid addiction, it can significantly decrease endorphin levels, a chemical that relieves stress and pain.


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