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Everyone should carry naloxone. Here’s how to get it

The opioid overdose-reversing medicine is easy to get and often free

Naloxone next to an opioid overdose kit set on the table as instructions on how to help are laid out.
Naloxone can be obtained over the counter, off the shelf, from a Whatcom County program, or by mail via the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By North Bennett News Intern

When it comes to encountering an opioid overdose in Whatcom County, it is not a matter of if, but when.  

First responders in Whatcom County receive an average of three to four overdose-related calls per day, according to data from the county-run Narcan Leave Behind program. 

In June, Dr. Greg Thompson, a co-health officer for Whatcom County, told the county council that local deaths caused by drug overdose more than doubled last year, from 44 in 2021 to at least 90 in 2022.   

The problem has become so severe that the Washington State Department of Health issued a standing order to distribute naloxone (brand name Narcan) in February 2023, allowing pharmacies and other agencies to dispense the overdose-reversing medicine to people without a prescription.  

Read more: What to do if you see a suspected overdose ]

Administering naloxone is simple, but it is important to do it correctly. Further resources exist online to teach you how to safely and effectively dispense the medicine. 

Because naloxone is best administered at the first sign of an opioid overdose and one dose is often insufficient, the more people who carry and know how to dispense the drug, the better. Here are several ways to access the medicine. 

Over-the-counter from a pharmacy  

Many insurers, including Medicaid, will cover the cost of Narcan. To go this route, visit a pharmacist’s counter. The pharmacist will likely request your name, date of birth and insurance information, and then will file a prescription pre-authorized by the Washington State health officer.  


Off the shelf at a drugstore 

Certain drugstores, such as Walgreens and Target, sell Narcan right off the shelf. You can purchase the medicine at the checkout counter just as you would buy aspirin or ibuprofen. 

A box of two 4 mg doses of Narcan retails for $44.99.  

Through Whatcom County’s Narcan Leave Behind Program 

Whatcom County Emergency Medical Service provides Narcan kits to at-risk individuals and involved bystanders or family members. The organization can also provide training (or training materials) to individuals or organizations. For more information, contact Steven Cohen, EMS Training Specialist, at 360-820-6157 or scohen@co.whatcom.wa.us. 

Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services will host a public CPR training with instruction on how to administer Narcan from 7–9 p.m. on Feb. 21 at 322 N. Commercial St., Bellingham. The training will include information on how to recognize an opioid overdose, how to administer naloxone, and how to care for the patient until help arrives. Class participants will receive a free Narcan kit. Register for the Feb. 21 training at https://bit.ly/3vpdnST.

Shannon Bossi, left, and her husband, Steve Moore take turns performing chest compressions on a dummy as an instructor stays close to give instructions while others are seen in the background, chatting.
Shannon Bossi, left, and her husband, Steve Moore take turns performing chest compressions on a dummy at a free naloxone and overdose training seminar hosted by Whatcom County Public Works. “I felt like [attending the training] was one of those things that wouldn’t take a lot to learn how to be aware of how to use Narcan and potentially save a life,” Moore said. (Andrew Ford/Cascadia Daily News)

In the mail from People’s Harm Reduction Alliance  

For those who cannot easily go to a pharmacy or community organization to get a kit, the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance will mail one. The organization is a Seattle-based nonprofit that has provided harm reduction and other health services in the Pacific Northwest since 2007. 

The organization has a link to a Google Form on its website, where interested parties can sign up to receive a nasal or injectable naloxone kit, as well as video training on how to use it. To get started, visit phra.org/naloxone.

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