As the opioid crisis continues, consider carrying the overdose-reversing drug naloxone

By Regence
February 21, 2023

Image credit: NEXT Distro/Unsplash

Christopher Woody was helping with the dinner service at a homeless shelter in Portland, Ore., last month when someone ran to the door and said someone was overdosing in a tent outside. Woody told KOIN News he ran outside and helped administer the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, brand named Narcan, to the woman who appeared to have stopped breathing. The victim regained her breath within a few minutes.

Woody said he’s glad he was there, had Narcan, and knew how to use it.

Stories like this are increasingly common as opioid misuse surges across the U.S. fueled by the prevalence of fentanyl, which can cause an overdose in less than a minute. The opioid crisis has prompted many experts to recommend anyone who is currently taking opioids, or interacts with anyone who does, should carry Narcan. Even if you’re taking prescription opioids as directed by your provider, it’s a good idea to have the overdose reversal drug on hand.

Regence Executive Medical Director Dr. Jim Polo explains more below about Narcan, how it works, and who should have it. He also talks about the opioid crisis and the signs of an overdose.

Dr. Polo says Narcan reverses the effects of opioids on the body. If you haven’t taken any opioids, the drug will have no effect on you.

Dr. Polo says the opioid crisis has only gotten worse with the COVID-19 pandemic, in part because people were stressed and anxious and turned to drugs.

Dr. Polo describes the signs of an overdose, such as pinpoint pupils, difficulty breathing and clammy skin.

Dr. Polo recommends anyone who takes opioids or who is ever around anyone who does should carry naloxone.

How to get naloxone

Some places still require a naloxone prescription, but in many areas it’s available from a pharmacist without a prescription. Some places even have naloxone vending machines or mail services, and some nonprofit organizations offer the medication for free. Check out this website for help finding naloxone products near you.

We’re here to help

Many Regence plans include a naloxone benefit that covers naloxone products with no out-of-pocket costs. Other Regence plans cover a portion of the cost for naloxone with a small co-pay. Sign in to your account at or call us at the number on your member ID card to learn more about your coverage options.