• - The DrugSmart Team

#BeDrugSmart Tips: Naloxone Saves Lives

Updated: Sep 10

In 2019, 11 people died per day from opioid-related overdoses in Canada.¹ An overdose can happen to anyone taking prescribed or street opioids. It affects all age, gender and socio-economic groups. To end overdose deaths, we need to end the stigma associated with them and know what to do in the event of an overdose.

Opioids are pain relievers that include:

  • Morphine and its derivatives (Codeine, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone)

  • Drugs used for addiction treatment, such as Methadone or Buprenophine

  • Heroin (2-4 times more potent than Morphine)

  • Fentanyl (50 times more potent than Heroin)

An overdose happens when too much of an opioid stops a person's breathing. There is no specific dose that leads to an overdose; it varies by person and environment, and is difficult to predict. Most (94%) overdoses happen by accident.²

Overdose deaths are often preventable. Naloxone saves lives.

Naloxone is a medication that temporarily reverses the effects of an overdose from opioids. There is a 27-46% decrease in opioid-related deaths when naloxone is given to the individual during an overdose, compared to individuals who do not receive naloxone.³ If more people have access to naloxone it will help address the rising number of opioid overdoses and deaths in Canada.

Free, take-home naloxone kits are available via the Ontario Naloxone Pharmacy Program (ONPP). As a participating pharmacy, DrugSmart can distribute naloxone kits to:

  • someone currently using opioids;

  • a past user who may return to opioid use;

  • a family member or friend of someone who is at risk of an opioid overdose;

  • a client of a needle syringe program or hepatitis C program; and/or

  • someone newly released from a correctional facility.

We believe naloxone kits should be a part of every household first aid kit.

Our pharmacists provide training on how to recognise the signs of an overdose, what to do during a suspected overdose, and how to administer a life-saving dose of naloxone.

If you are in the position to help someone at risk of an overdose:

Book a free, 15 minute in-person or video chat consultation with a DrugSmart pharmacist to receive training and get your free naloxone kit.


Order a free naloxone kit online or on the DrugSmart Pharmacy app (find it under First Aid). Choose between in-person or video chat training and your pharmacist will contact you to schedule the 15-min appointment.

An overdose can happen to anyone you know: a friend, a parent, a child, a co-worker. There is no harm in being prepared, because overdose deaths are preventable when help is given quickly.

It's time to #EndOverdose. Source: overdoseday.com

Know the signs:

  • their lips or fingertips are blue or purple

  • you can't wake the person up

  • you hear deep snoring or gurgling sounds

  • their breathing is very slow, erratic, or has stopped altogether

  • their pupils are very small

  • their body is limp

Know what to do:

If you suspect someone is having an overdose, call 911 immediately. Then give them a dose of naloxone to temporarily restore breathing and stay with the person until help arrives.

The effects of naloxone do not last as long as the effects of an opioid drug, which is why naloxone alone is not enough to completely stop an overdose. The important thing is that it provides extra time for the emergency response team to arrive and start a medical intervention.

Make an appointment to talk to your pharmacist about naloxone today.


  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/canada-opioid-crisis-fact-sheet.html

  2. canada.ca/opioids

  3. Opioid overdose rates and implementation of overdose education and nasal naloxone distribution in Massachusetts: interrupted time series analysis. BMJ, January 2013.

  4. OverdoseDay.com

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