What is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a medicine which can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose caused by opiates and opioids such as heroin, methadone or morphine.

The main life-threatening effect of these drugs is to slow down and stop breathing. Naloxone blocks this effect and reverses the breathing difficulties.

PHE guidelines have been published (and updated in February 2019) on the distribution of Naloxone. The regulations mean that anyone involved in delivering drug treatment services can now carry naloxone and make it available to others without a prescription. For example, a worker in a drug treatment service could supply naloxone to a family member or friend of a person using heroin, or to a manager of a hostel whose clients include people who use heroin.



They PHE guidelines include information on:

  1. What the new regulations mean
  2. Who can supply naloxone
  3. Products that drug services can supply
  4. Responsibility for deciding who can actually supply naloxone locally
  5. People who can be supplied naloxone
  6. Patient Group Directions and Patient Specific Directions
  7. Naloxone’s status as a prescription only medicine
  8. Using naloxone to save a person’s life without their permission
  9. Clinical governance in drug treatment services
  10. Guidance for hostels/homeless shelters/housing associations, etc
  11. Cost-effectiveness of widening availability
  12. Risks associated with widening availability

This video from the EMCDDA explains the reasons why increased naloxone availability is important and how the drug is being used throughout Europe.

How to administer Naloxone

Naloxone kits should have guidance on how to use them included in the pack but if not, you can find instructions for administering the nasal and intra-muscular kits here, courtesy of

See also the website of the Naloxone Acton Group for more information on this life saving drug.


Finding a Needle in a Haystack: Take-Home Naloxone in England 2017/18
This report updates Release’s previous reporting on ‘Take-home Naloxone in England: 2016/17’ and presents novel findings on take-home naloxone provision in custodial settings, such as in prisons, across England for the period 2017/18 | Release, UK

Guidance: Widening the availability of naloxone, 2019
Naloxone is the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates/opioids (such as methadone and morphine) | DoH et al, UK

Take-home naloxone for opioid overdose in people who use drugs (PDF), 2017
Advice for local authorities and local partners on widening the availability of naloxone to reduce overdose deaths from heroin and other opiate drugs | PHE, UK


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