How does Narcan work?


I always see police shows response to someone overdose and they apply Narcan and with in minutes they come back. How is it so effective?

In: 11

When you take an opioid like fentanyl or morphine, it affects certain receptors in your brain. Naloxone works by kicking opioids off the receptors in your brain and binding to those receptors instead. This reverses or blocks the effects of opioids on your body.

They bind the same receptors in the cells. Opiates bind and activate (agonist), leading to reduced pain, but also things like reduced breathing if you take to much.

Narcan binds the same receptor, but it is an antagonist. It binds, and doesn’t activate the receptor. It also binds more tightly than other things like fentanyl or heroin, so it stops those drugs from binding and causing overdose symptoms.

Of note, it has a pretty short half life, so you need to keep redosing it in cases of overdose.