Naloxone is a competitive antagonist to opioid drugs, and most commonly used to treat opioid overdose. Naloxone is administered parentally. Naloxone has a half-life of approximately 60 minutes (Ogura T & Egan TD 2019). It is important to remember that this is shorter than most opioid drugs. Close monitoring of the patient following the administration of naloxone is vital and repeat doses may be required.

Opioid side effects can be reversed without affecting the analgesic effects; this is because analgesia is achieved with lower plasma concentrations of opioid than those that are required to cause side effects.

Naloxone can be administered without prescription as covered under the emergency medicines act (Human Medicines Regulations 2012).

Naloxone must be given with great caution to patients who are receiving long-term opioids for the treatment of pain or who are physically dependent on opioids. Use of naloxone in patients where it is not indicated, or in larger than recommended doses, can cause a rapid reversal of the physiological effects of pain control, leading to intense pain and distress, and an increase in sympathetic nervous stimulation and cytokine release precipitating an acute withdrawal syndrome. Hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary oedema and cardiac arrest may result from inappropriate doses of naloxone being used for these group of patients (2014 NHS England)


Policy Details

Download: N/A
Compiled by: Monica Thompson, Thomas Lilley
Ratified by: Drugs and Therapeutics Committee, Theatres Clinical Governance Group
Date Ratified: September 2022
Date Issued: October 2022
Review Date: September 2024
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Monica Thompson


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