Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose or adverse reaction. If someone has overdosed on opioids they will be unconscious or awake, but unable to talk. It’s unlikely they will be able to administer naloxone themselves.
Naloxone is administered by injection or delivered through a nasal spray. It works by blocking opioid drugs, such as heroin and oxycodone, from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain.
After administering naloxone it is vital to call an ambulance (000) because naloxone only lasts about 30-90 minutes and the person can overdose again once it wears off.
About the Take Home Naloxone program
The Australian Government is investing $19.6 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to deliver the Take Home Naloxone program nationally.
Naloxone will be available from 1 July 2022 for free, no prescription is needed. This is for anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.
This investment ensures access to this life-saving medicine and will also help people who need naloxone to use it when they need it.
Who can access the program
The Take Home Naloxone program is for:
people who are at risk of an opioid overdose or adverse reaction, their carers, friends and family members
approved providers such as community pharmacists, dispensing doctors and hospital pharmacists
authorised alternative suppliers such as needle and syringe programs, alcohol and other drug treatment centres and outreach services.
Where naloxone is available
Naloxone will be available at all participating pharmacies across Australia.
In non-pharmacy settings each state or territory will identify where naloxone will be available in their jurisdiction. Sites may include:
community and hospital-based pharmacies
alcohol and drug treatment centres
needle and syringe programs
custodial release programs
Find out where to access naloxone.
Who is involved
The Take Home Naloxone program is funded by the Australian Government.
Health is overseeing the program and is working with state and territory governments on delivery.
Final evaluation report – Take Home Naloxone pilot
The University of Queensland, Institute for Social Science Research were contracted to provide an evaluation of the take home naloxone pilot. The report presents the final evaluation findings. It covers the pilot in NSW, SA and WA from commencement on 1 December 2019 until 30 June 2021.
The evaluation used a mix of data collection activities to address the key evaluation questions and informed considerations for the national rollout.
The evaluation found that during the pilot:
streamlining access by making naloxone available for free to people who may either experience, or witness, an opioid overdose without the need to get a prescription from a General Practitioner improved uptake of this life-saving medicine by consumers
availability through a broad range of access sites also improved access to naloxone for consumers
over 43,000 units of naloxone were distributed to individuals during the pilot.
take home naloxone was used at least 1,649 times to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.
take home naloxone saved up to an estimated 3 lives per day, which includes both improvement in prognosis and reductions in mortality.