What is Narcan? And why did Demi Lovato's friends allegedly have it on them?

Friends of popstar Demi Lovato were concerned about an impending overdose, according to reports, and prepared themselves with something called Narcan. 

It begs the question: What is Narcan and how did it save the beloved songstress from an ill fate?

Lovato was discovered unconscious at her Hollywood Hills home by paramedics earlier this week from a suspected opioid overdose. Emergency services reportedly told media outlets they revived her with Narcan, used to treat narcotic overdoses. 

"One of her friends had Narcan on hand in case something like this happened," a source told Us Weekly. "Her friends knew this was coming because she's been using so much again." 

Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is a nasal spray used to treat emergency cases of an opioid overdose or a suspected opioid overdose. 

When given intravenously, the substance works within two minutes, and when injected into a muscle, it works with five minutes, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. 

If you take an opioid drug such as heroin or morphine, they bind to activate receptors in the brain, blocking pain, slowing breathing, and making you feel calmer. But in the case of an overdose from opioids, you could stop breathing and become unconscious. 

But a dose of Narcan can save you, because it competes with the opioids and blocks them from the affected receptors, a report by Women's Health says. The effects of the opioids will start to reverse and you will be able to breathe again.  

The image shows a woman putting together a Naloxone spray gun in a class on opioid overdose prevention.
The image shows a woman putting together a Naloxone spray gun in a class on opioid overdose prevention. Photo credit: Getty

"Naloxone is very effective but may not work in the body as long as opioids do, so there's a chance that a person who has overdosed could go unconscious again even without taking more opioids," Patrick Lank, an emergency medicine specialist at Northwestern Medical Group, told Women's Health. 

The availability of Narcan as a nasal spray means it's a convenient tool for emergency responders to use on opioid overdose victims. Luckily for Lovato, she was given Narcan to revive her from an alleged overdose, and she is currently "awake" and "stable," according to People.

The singer has been open with her substance abuse struggles in the past. Last month she released a song called 'Sober' in which she admitted to falling off the wagon after six years of sobriety.

The opioid epidemic cost the United States an estimated $504 billion in 2015, according to Stat News. In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the country's opioid crisis a "public health emergency". 


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